Bertie Felstead
Bertie Felstead (photo), the last survivor of the First World War Christmas Day truce when British and German troops played football together, died recently, aged 106. Felstead, who was the second oldest person in Britain, was by his own account an average man who experienced an extraordinary event. His whole life was dominated by that historic moment in 1915 when the guns went silent and British and German troops emerged from the trenches to play football in the snow.

Felstead was a young Royal Welsh Fusilier when he and his colleagues put down their rifles and climbed out of their icy trenches to greet the enemy near the village of Laventie in northern France. “As far as I can remember, a few of the Germans came out first and started walking over,” Felstead said in an interview two years ago. “I do remember a whole mass of us just getting up and going out to meet them. Nothing was planned. It was spontaneous.

There was a bit of football, if you can call it that. Someone suggested it and somehow a ball was produced. It wasn’t a game as such – more of a kick-around and a free-for-all. There could have been 50 on each side for all I know. I played because I really liked football. I don’t know how long it lasted, probably half an hour, and no one was keeping score.” The truce came to an end with the appearance of an angry British major, barking out orders to return to the trenches and terse reminders that they were there to “kill the Hun, not make friends with him.”