Firstly, apologies for the lack of blog updates, unfortunately I’ve had COVID and updating the blog hasn’t been top of my list of priorities – I know, any excuses!
I did manage however to post a new podcast update the other day, and in the pod we paid a visit to one of my favourite spots on the Western Front, Ploegsteert Wood (or Plugstreet as it was known to the British). It’s a compact area in southern Flanders, very close to the border with France, and from a military history perspective it packs real bang for buck – there was much happened in a very small area, with heavy fighting in every year of the War (with the exception of 1916 when there was a small gathering on the Somme instead.)
On the northern edge of the wood, facing the leeward slopes of Messines Ridge stands a wooden memorial cross erected to commemorate the activities of a group of fine historians known as the Khaki Chums, who spent Christmas of 1999 in the field behind the cross, commemorating the 85th anniversary of the Christmas Truce. There is no doubt that in this field, fraternisation and interaction took place between the British and Germans on that first wartime Christmas in 1914. As you can see from the picture above, it remains a site of pilgrimage to this day, with many visitors leaving a football to commemorate the football match that took place between the Germans and the British. Or did it?
Of all the stories about the Great War, the football match played between the Tommies and Fritz is possibly the biggest myth to come out of the Great War. The field itself was covered with shell holes and frozen turnips – hardly an ideal surface for a kick about. The dead lay strewn over the field, once again, hardly ideal conditions for a kick about. There were some really excellent podcasts brought out last Christmas which dissected the Christmas Truce (Paul Reed’s Old Front Line was especially memorable) and the general concensus seems to be that there was much talk about playing football but little to no evidence that it took place in the front lines.
A message from one of my Patreon supporters (www.patreon.com/footstepsofthefallen) gave me a great idea for a podcast – why not take some of the famous stories and myths of the Great War and see whether we can dispel them in a podcast. A shout out on Twitter has brought some great questions – how about you, the readers of this blog. Is there a burning question about the Great War that you’d like included in the podcast?
If there is, drop me a message via the Contact Me tab up above, and you never know, it might make it into the podcast!