Football

The famous football matches that took place in no man’s land during the 1914 Christmas Truce have received lots of attention recently, but their historical accuracy has also been disputed.

It is proven, though, that many Muslim soldiers serving in the First World War did participate in football games, particularly in France. British and Indian armies fought together, which meant that socialising together was a possibility.

The pictured example, from July 1915, shows the Indian soldiers of the 18th Lancers playing a football match against a British cavalry regiment. At the bottom of the photograph, French children are watching the game.

Photograph of troops playing football - image courtesy of the British Library

Photograph of troops playing football – image courtesy of the British Library

Profile: Nisar Muhammad Khan

One interesting letter from 1915, sent by a Muslim soldier in France named Nisar Muhammad Khan to his brother in Peshawar, explains that having been selected in the army football team, he must now train every morning.

Khan apologises to his brother for not responding to his numerous correspondences. He writes: ‘I have received many letters from you, but have been unable to answer them for lack of time, because, my dear brother … I have been put into the football team’. He adds: ‘every day, we have to go to the office at 10 or 12 a.m. (sic) for football, and the office is about two miles away. So I get no time at all’.

Source: BL L/MIL/5/826/1.