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Global recognition for centenary of Christmas Truce

12 January 2015

Rachel Atkinson

Dr Iain Adams’ research made headlines across the world.

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) academic has had a busy festive period – thanks to his research into the Christmas Truce 1914.

Dr Iain Adams has offered expert comment about the First World War truce football match to newspapers and websites across the world, including USA, Canada, Pakistan, The Gulf, Poland and Germany.

He said: “It was certainly a different Christmas Day to most. My wife was most put out when Associated Press, a global news agency, phoned to interview me but as I told her it’s only the 100th anniversary once.”

Dr Adams is among a group of historians who had warned that the truce football match, said to have taken place 100 years ago on 25 December was at risk of being misremembered.

It was certainly a different Christmas Day to most. My wife was most put out when Associated Press, a global news agency, phoned to interview me but as I told her it’s only the 100th anniversary once.

Experts said the story of the football match has been "romanticised" and was not the organised game many believe it to be. In fact, only a few soldiers may have participated in a kick-about.

The UCLan Principal Lecturer, who has researched the subject for over a decade, said the truce should not be thought of as one single event. He said: “There wasn't a Christmas truce, there were quite a few Christmas truces going on at the same time.

He argued that the idea of one large organised game of football on Christmas Day is misleading. He said: “In some places I have no doubt at all that they played football but it was not a football match. I suspect what happened in two or three places was the lads would start kicking a can about and someone would have brought a football so in two or three places a real football would have been used.”

Talking about the international response he said: “It’s been wonderful as people from across the world have been really interested in this subject. The story shows the humility that soldiers had as they found it very hard to fight against German soldiers who only the day before they’d been kicking a can or ball around with.”

 

The story shows the humility that soldiers had as they found it very hard to fight against German soldiers who only the day before they’d been kicking a can or ball around with.

Dr Adams, who is based in the School of Sport, Tourism and the Outdoors, recently visited Germany to help the British Army take part in a Christmas Truce football match. He travelled to Sennelager to deliver a briefing on the Truce to British Officers before soldiers from the 20th Army Brigade of the British Army and the 21st Panzer Brigade at Paderborn played against each other with the British team going on to claim a 4-0 victory.

As part of the anniversary he delivered a very well received presentation at The National Archives, at Kew, on 'A Game for Christmas: Football on the Western Front, December 1914' – it is available to listen here.

He also attended the opening of the National Football Museum's exhibition 'The Greater Game - Football & The First World War', and watched the performance of his play 'A Game for Christmas' by pupils from Cheetham Primary School.

In a move to create a sculpture to remember the truce, Dr Adams met with sculptor Andy Edwards, creator of the Stanley Matthews figure at Stoke City's Britannia Stadium, and Chris Butler, CEO of Castle Fine Arts Foundry, to discuss the progress of the 'All Together Now' commemorative work.