PUPILS joined together to stage a poignant football match to remember the fallen.
A team from Seaham School of Technology took on a team of pupils from Germany to recreate the moment WW1 soldiers ceased fire for a Christmas Day kick about.
Alongside the English pupils, teenagers from the county’s twinned area of Kreis Wesel climbed out of a specially-built trench at the school to start the match.
The teenagers said re-enacting the football truce game of 1914 gave them a fresh insight into the war.
Kelly Salmon, 14, from Seaham said: “I didn’t know about the Christmas Day truce until we started learning about it for this project. It really gave us an insight into the German side of the war.
“We’ve really enjoyed having the German pupils here and have been learning some German words from them. I think it’s important to talk about the war, to keep the memory of what happened alive.”
German pupil Ria Grewel Singh, 13, said: “At school we learn more about WW2, so it’s been interesting to learn about the First World War. “We’ve really enjoyed our visit to Durham, it’s beautiful here.”
Among the invited guests to the recreation match were 1973 FA Cup legend Jimmy Montgomery.
The former Black Cat goalkeeper said: “What a superb idea, to be asked to be part of this is fantastic. You look at the trench and the barbed wire and it gives you a new insight into how it was for those men.
“Football has a great power of bringing people together. It did then, and it still does today. I could never imagine what it was like for those men in the trenches, but we can look at the stories that came from that time.”
The trench at Seaham School of Technology, which is 12 metres long and five metres deep, has also been used for history lessons and visited by pupils from other schools in the county.
David Shield, headteacher at Seaham School of Technology, said: “It has been amazing to see the creation of an authentic historical landscape which is now a focal point for living history and a visual reminder of one of the key moments in the conflict.”
The encounter is a flagship part of the Football Remembers programme. Supported by The Duke of Cambridge, the initiative sees the Premier League, Football League and the FA joining forces with the British Council to encourage national commemoration of this year’s centenary of the Christmas Truce – one of the most iconic moments of the First World War.
Coun John Robinson, chairman of Durham County Council, said: “This historical re-enactment reflects the moment when fighting troops recognised their adversaries as human beings and for a moment let a glimmer of friendship shine on a bleak and foreboding landscape.
“This project helps encourage reflection and promote humanity in our young learners by working in partnership from our friends from Germany.”