In the trenches | ‘Eerie sound’ of the Great War’s Christmas truce

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Alfred Anderson, 1896–2005. Link to Scotsman article.Newtyle, Scotland | The famed football truce (see 26 Dec 2003) of 25 December 1914 has lost its last witness. Alfred Anderson, 109, believed to be the oldest man in Scotland, died in a nursing home Monday. His death severed “the last tangible link between the nation and the 690,235 Scots who served in the Great War,” the Scotsman eulogizes in Tuesday’s editions. Serving as a private in the Black Watch 5th Battalion, the Dundee-born joiner witnessed the impromptu, Christmas Day truce during which German and Allied soldiers exchanged cigarettes, sang carols and played football. “I remember the eerie sound of silence,” Anderson recalled in 2004. “All I’d heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining of bullets in flight, machine-gun fire and distant German voices. But there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see.” Anderson in 1998 earned the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest military honor, to mark his service.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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