Re-enactment of a World War I Christmas Truce Football Match

A few days ago, Reg took over my blog or his ‘dlog’ as he likes to call it and told you about our trip to Meaux, France. I’ve told him it’s my blog and there’s no such word as ‘dlog’ but I could tell he wasn’t listening.

Tiny carved clogs
Tiny carved clogs

Anyway, I thought I’d add a few photos and tell you a bit about my impressions of the football match. A coach load of people from Basildon, Essex set out on Friday night and arrived in Meaux early the next morning, shortly before the coach from Heiligenhaus, Germany. We all met at the Musee de la Grande Guerre in Meaux, where we were greeted by tea, coffee and huge piles of pains au chocolat, after which, we were welcomed by Laurent Guillaume the French organiser of the trip and people from the museum. This included Jean-Christophe Ponot, who had previously sent me details of Louis Vallin, the French gunner and bomber, about whom I wrote in ‘The Sons of Three Countries Remembered’.  We toured the museum and although we didn’t have very long, the things that remained with me were that the airplanes were so flimsy, it was hard to imagine how they ever flew and also, how unsophisticated the surgical instruments were as well as the provision for those who were seriously wounded. I also spotted a pair of clogs, which are similar to ones brought home by my father’s dad, who fought in France in WWI.

Some of the English team, including Adam Elliott on the left and Christopher Walthorne second from the right.
Some of the English team, including Adam Elliott on the left and Christopher Walthorne second from the right.

After a group photo outside the museum, we made our way to the sports ground in Meaux where white shirts were given to the English team and grey shirts to the Germans. Both teams were given braces to complete the WWI look. Two of the actors from ‘The Sons of Three Countries Remembered’ took part, Adam Elliott, who played George Burnett and Christopher Walthorne who played Louis Vallin and they are shown on the left with some other players.

Nurses help the 'wounded'
Nurses help the ‘wounded’
Nurses in goal!
Nurses in goal!
All the players
All the players

It was the most interesting football game I’ve ever seen! Players slipped in the mud and nurses rushed on to assist them. When the French players turned up, they mistook the Germans for the English and played with the wrong side until they realised, then switched teams! And I’ve never seen four nurses defending a goal! The whole game was friendly and good humoured and it really didn’t matter who won although I think it might have been the Germans! I must admit, I lost count of the goals.

Muddy nurses
Muddy nurses
Germans and English together
Germans and English together

After the players had changed, we went to a gallery in Meaux where a WWI exhibition had been set up which was opened by the Mayor of Meaux. He praised the town twinning initiative which promotes international cooperation and breaks down cultural and social barriers.

Suzanne Vallin and me
Suzanne Vallin and me

It was wonderful meeting people from France and Germany and I particularly liked seeing Suzanne Vallin, the daughter of Louis Vallin again, after meeting her for the first time the previous week at the performance of ‘The Sons of Three Countries Remembered’.

All in all, Jamie and I had a wonderful time in Meaux and hope to go back next year, especially if, as has been suggested, ‘The Sons of Three Countries Remembered’ is performed in Meaux Cathedral.