Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Captain Nevill's Soccer Balls, Part 2

Regular readers of this blog might remember that my entry of 11 February discussed locating the precise site where  Capt. Billie Nevill's men of Company B of the 8th Battalion of the 2nd East Surrey Regiment kicked those four soccer balls of legend across no-man's-land on 1 July 1916. Visit HERE to see the map of the site I presented. In rough terms, the site is between Carnoy and Montauban, near the boundary of the 18th and 30th Divisions of the British Army on the first day of the Somme.

Captain Nevill in the Trenches, Pre-Somme

One of the Original Soccer Balls at the Surreys' Museum

I mentioned in the article that I intended to bring my Somme In-Depth tour group to the site.  I did so last week on 17 August with our own ball and asked the group to each make a commemorative soccer kick and join in a moment of remembrance for Capt. Nevill and his men. The farm field was being actively worked, but we got as close as we could — within view — to the site of the Surreys' trenches. Here are a few photos of our visit.

Kicking Toward Montauban, Captured on 1 July – A Rare Victory That Day

Just Beyond Those Trees the Most Successful Mine of 1 July Was Detonated

Team Photo at the Football Battalion Memorial, Longueval

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

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