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Football chiefs mark centenary of troops' Christmas truce

By Tom Pugh

Dignitaries in Belgium have marked the 100th anniversary of the Christmas truce between German and Allied troops during the First World War.

Uefa hosted a special event in the area where hostilities between the warring sides were suspended in one of the most famous acts of the Great War.

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke joined Uefa president Michel Platini for the unveiling of a football monument.

It was there that British and German soldiers laid down their weapons in No Man's Land at Christmas 1914 to share greetings, treats, mementoes and a game of football during the unofficial ceasefire.

The Germans placed trees illuminated with candles on the parapet of their trenches and sang Christmas carols as the war raged on nearby.

Troops from both camps were able to bury their dead who had fallen in No Man's Land, repair their trenches and share cigars during the temporary ceasefire.

Despite fraternisation with the enemy being punishable, the truce was maintained into January 1915.

It was a period of light relief in the midst of the bloodiest conflict the world had known, which ended when the armistice was signed on November 11 1918.

Soldiers ignored war and celebrated Christmas in peace along several places on the front line, including at Ploegsteert Wood, Comines-Warneton, known as Plugstreet to the British.

In Ploegsteert, Mr Platini addressed a remembrance ceremony before inaugurating a monument in a muddy field at Warneton.

Platini said: "This remembrance ceremony pays tribute to the soldiers who expressed, a hundred years ago, their humanity by playing football together. They have opened an important chapter in the construction of the European community and gave example for today's young generations."

Belfast Telegraph


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