Thursday, 28 January 2016

A Suspension of Football

Friday 28th January 1916: We have heard from Lance Sergeant Fred Blakeman of A Company, 7th Battalion, a Bedford lad who is well-known on most of the football grounds of this county: “I am pleased to inform you that I remain first class but we are in the trenches once again and have had it a bit rough this time and won’t be sorry to get back for a rest; but all the boys are as cheerful as one could expect under the circumstances. The last time we were resting we managed to arrange a few games of football, my company beating B by 3 goals to 2. During this match(1) “Fritz” got the range nicely and planted several shells within forty yards of our pitch; no one was hurt, but I have never seen a footer ground cleared so quickly. Eventually we returned and completed the game. The following day I played in a Rugby match against a team of Fusiliers(2), whom we beat by 23 points to nil, your humble scoring a couple of tries. You know a little bit of sport of this kind helps to keep up the boys’ spirits, but our greatest regret now is that the ball you sent us is about played out so should you know of anyone with an old football, no matter what condition it may be, ask them to send it over here”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 11th February 1916

(1) On 26th January – the war diary states: “Enemy sent over one round battery fire at men playing football North Road end. No damage done”.

(2) Probably 11th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers who were in the same brigade

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