The Christmas Match

Football in No Man’s Land 1914

Pehr Thermaenius

The Christmas Match
See sample pages from the book (PDF format).

Pehr Thermaenius

Distributed for Uniform Press

224 pages | 40 halftones | 5 1/3 x 7 1/2 | © 2015
Paper $19.95 ISBN: 9781910500019 Published August 2015 For Sale in USA and Canada Only
On Christmas Eve, 1914, after four months of intense, bloody fighting in Flanders between entrenched British and German soldiers, something miraculous happened. The guns fell silent as Christmas approached, and the soldiers on both sides started singing instead of shooting. Then, on Christmas Day, the two sides emerged from their trenches and met in No Man’s Land. Some chased rabbits. Others, more memorably, played soccer. It was a rare moment of peace—and even beauty—amid horrible carnage.

The Christmas Match tells that story through the eyes of two soldiers—Albert Schmidt, a Saxon, and Jimmy Coyle, a Scot—who were in units that played a Christmas Day match against each other. Pehr Thermaenius traces their stories through military archives, taking the pair from mobilization in August to the frozen mud of Flanders in December, showing the making of soldiers, the traumas of war, and the emergence—brief, but real—of hope within that Christmas Day sporting truce. A brilliantly realized account of an unforgettable moment in European history, The Christmas Match is history at its up-close, deeply human best.
Contents
Two Footballers
The road to a field in Flanders

Albert and Jimmy
The boys from Schedewitz
A vanman in Edinburgh

Forwards into the War
The Players who earned a medal
From Africa to Glasgow
A short march to the train
First over the Channel
Marching on

Real War
Graves at the roadside
The first day of the war
A half battalion
Towards Paris
“Rats in a trap”

In the Trenches
A retreat they could not understand
Turning around
Barbed wire
“Rather a forlorn hope”
Quiet, but still dangerous
Back into the trenches

Christmas Truce
A quiet Christmas
Delicious silence

The Match
Nobody’s home ground

And the War Went on
A new truce in the mud
Two destinies in the Great War

What If…
There was more to the truce than souvenirs and football

100 Years Later
Lest we forget

Acknowledgements
Thanks
Sources and biographies
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