Football in No Man’s Land

  • Peter Grant
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Subcultures and Popular Music book series (PSHSPM)


This chapter looks at the utilisation of a key war myth, the Christmas Truce of 1914, in popular music. The key elements of the myth are explained and compared with the actual events before describing a number of songs that closely adhere to the mythical conception, including Jona Lewie’s ‘Stop the Cavalry’, Paul McCartney’s ‘Pipes of Peace’, The Farm’s ‘Altogether Now’ and examples from the USA, Ireland, Australia and Denmark.

Two songs that ‘re-shape’ the myth of the truce are featured: Barclay James Harvest’s ‘The Ballad of Denshaw Mill and ‘Let the Truce be Known’ by Israel’s Orphaned Land.


Football Match Metal Band Popular Song Rock Band Western Front 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ashworth, T. (2004). Trench warfare 1914–1918: The live and let live system. London: Pan.Google Scholar
  2. Atavachron. (2013). The Image Maker Vol 1 and 2, Accessed 24 Aug 2015.
  3. Baker, R. (2014). Israeli band Orphaned Land: “No one is right in a war”, Accessed 17 Aug 2015.
  4. Barclay James Harvest Forum. (n.d.). Accessed 16 Nov 2012.
  5. Bliss, C. (1991). Categorical infringement: Australian prose in the eighties. The Journal of Narrative Technique, 21(1), 43–51.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, M., & Seaton, S. (1994). Christmas Truce: The Western Front December 1914. Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  7. Carion, C. (2014, December 25). How France has forgotten the Christmas Truce soldiers, BBC News magazine. Accessed 17 Aug 2015.
  8. Clark, A. (1991). The Donkeys. London: Pimlico.Google Scholar
  9. Corrigan, G. (2008, November 1). Lecture at ‘Journey’s End?’ Conference on the Great War, National Army Museum.Google Scholar
  10. Corrigan, G. (2010). The Second World War: A military history. London: Atlantic.Google Scholar
  11. Cowgill, R. (2011). Canonizing remembrance: Music for Armistice day at the BBC, 1922–7. First World War Studies, 2(1), 75–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crocker, T. B. (2012). “A remarkable instance”: The Christmas Truce and its role in the contemporaneous narrative of the First World War, Theses and dissertations – History, University of Kentucky. Accessed 17 Aug 2015.
  13. Crocker, T. B. (2015). The Christmas Truce: Myth, memory, and the First World War. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.Google Scholar
  14. de Groot, G. (2000). The First World War. London: Palgrave/St Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  15. Felstead, B. (2001, August 2). Bertie Felstead: The last known survivor of no-man’s-land football died on July 22nd, aged 106, the Economist. Accessed 4 Feb 2013.
  16. Fogg, A. (2014, November 13). Sainsbury’s Christmas ad is a dangerous and disrespectful masterpiece. The Guardian. Accessed 17 Aug 2015.
  17. Fussell, P. (2000). The Great War and modern memory, 25th Anniversary edition. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Gilbert, M. (1994). The First World War: A complete history. London: Orion.Google Scholar
  19. Groom, W. (2002). A storm in Flanders: The Ypres Salient, 1914–1918: Tragedy and triumph on the Western Front. New York: Atlantic Press.Google Scholar
  20. Hallifax, S. (2010). “Over by Christmas”: British popular opinion and the short war in 1914. First World War Studies, 1(2), 103–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ham and Bud website. (n.d.). Industrial valleys – Denshaw mill. Accessed 17 Aug 2015.
  22. Hazelgrove, J. (1999). Spiritualism after the Great War. Twentieth Century British History, 10(4), 404–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hooton, P. (2010, December 3). “All Together Now: True meaning of The Farm’s anthem’, BBC News, Entertainment and Arts. Accessed 17 Aug 2015.
  24. Hopkins, N., & Norton-Taylor, R. (2013, February 8). Kickabout that captured futility of first world war to be replayed for centenary. The Guardian. Accessed 18 Feb 2013.
  25. Johnson, R. (2013). Gentle men: A family history of the First World War and its consequences. Brighton: Irregular Records.Google Scholar
  26. kluseba. (2014). The Nobel Peace prize of the metal world: Review of All is One, Encyclopaedia Mettalum. Accessed 17 Aug 2015.
  27. Kmaa Kendell. (2015, November 4). Personal correspondence with the author.Google Scholar
  28. Lester, P. (2013, 26 March). The Jar Family. The Guardian. Accessed 29 Oct 2015.
  29. Magee, J., Bairner, A., & Tomlinson, A. (Eds.). (2005). The bountiful game: Football identities and finances. Oxford: Meyer and Meyer.Google Scholar
  30. Mason, T., & Riedi, E. (2010). Sport and the military: The British armed forces 1880–1960. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Metal Blast. (2013). Orphaned Land interview @ PPM. Accessed 17 Aug 2015.
  32. Murphy, J. (2009). Truce: The day the soldiers stopped fighting. New York: Scholastic Press.Google Scholar
  33. O’Connell, J. M. (2011). Music in war, music for peace: A review article. Ethnomusicology, 55(1), 112–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Richards, F. (1933). Old soldiers never die. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  35. Royal Dublin Fusiliers website. (n.d.). Accessed 17 Aug 2015.
  36. Scott, N. (2016). Heavy metal as resistance. In B. G. Walter et al. (Eds.), Heavy metal studies and popular culture (pp. 19–35). Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  37. The Times. (1914a, October 9). Through German eyes: English letter from Germany.Google Scholar
  38. The Times. (1914b, September 25). Sure progress of the Allies.Google Scholar
  39. The Times. (1974, August 5). Old contemptibles ‘Last Post’ letter from Philip Howard.Google Scholar
  40. ULT Futures. (2011). Broad participation, diverse futures: Abstracts. Accessed 15 Nov 2012.
  41. Wakefield, A. (2006). Christmas in the trenches. Stroud: Sutton.Google Scholar
  42. Weber, T. (2010, December 15). New evidence of First World War Christmas truces uncovered, Aberdeen University website. Accessed 4 Feb 2013.
  43. Weintraub, S. (2001). Silent night: The story of the World War I Christmas Truce. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  44. Weintraub, S. (2004, December 27). Remembering a Christmas Truce on a battlefield, Talk of the Nation. NPR website Accessed 4 Feb 2013.
  45. Winter, J., & Bagget, B. (1996). The Great War and the shaping of the twentieth century. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Grant
    • 1
  1. 1.Cass Business SchoolCity University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations