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  1. ITV Report

Christmas truce 1914: The truth behind the myth

Soldiers playing football in the trenches Credit: ITV News

Today the truce was commemorated on No Man's Land in Belgium, where Uefa president Michel Platini unveiled a monument to the match, which was reenacted in the mud.

A century ago, soldiers on both sides of the First World War laid down their weapons for a Christmas truce and it is said that British and German troops played a game of football together.

Andrew Hamilton, told ITV News how his grandfather, Captain Robert Hamilton was the British officer who walked unarmed towards enemy lines to negotiate the truce - and it wasn't about a football match.

A painting of Captain Robert Hamilton, who organised a 48-hour truce over Christmas Credit: ITV News

"It was the shaking of hands that was the most significant thing in all this - not games of football, but that business of shaking hands," said Mr Hamilton. "Then soldiers met, mingles and they swapped all sorts of things - badges, caps, cigarettes for cigars.

It is an iconic event, with humanity overcoming man's innate evil - just for a short time.

– War historian Andrew Hamilton

Captain Hamilton, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, kept a handwritten diary chronicling a peaceful Christmas in the trenches - to the disapproval of the generals.

An excerpt from Captain Robert Hamilton's diary of events of Christmas in the trenches in 1914 Credit: ITV News

"A day unique in the world's history," one extract began. "I met their officer and we arranged a local armistice for 48 hours."

Years of research suggests that the only game of football that year involved only British soldiers.

"It was a kickabout among Royal Warwicks and it was watched by Germans who were obviously interested in what was going on," Mr Hamilton said.

World War One soldiers Credit: ITV News

However, the theme of football as a uniting force is "still valid," he said.

A Britain v. Germany game had been planned, Captain Hamilton wrote, but generals intervened and resumed their war.

ITV News correspondent Paul Davies reports: