Wiltshire Publications

Prince William unveils memorial built by Westbury stonemason

Prince William and the memorial

Prince William and the memorial

The Duke of Cambridge has unveiled a monument built by a Westbury stonemason that commemorates the 1914 Christmas football match truce.

Nick Johnson from Westbury stonemasons, Young Johnson, was asked to build the memorial in recognition of the unofficial 1914 Christmas day truce between British and German soldiers in the First World War, when soldiers played a game of football during the lull in hostilities. The story of Nick Johnson’s commission to craft the monument was exclusively revealed in White Horse News back in November.

The new memorial is sited at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and Nick used a design created by ten-year-old Spencer Turner from Newcastle.

The match, between German and Allied troops, is remembered for bringing World War One to a temporary halt and is seen as one of the most iconic moments of the First World War.

Speaking at the unveiling, in his role as president of the Football Association, Prince William said, “It really is the most fitting culmination of the Football Remembers programme, and will serve as a permanent reminder of one of the key moments of the First World War.

“We all grew up with the story of soldiers from both sides putting down their arms to meet in no-man’s land on Christmas Day 1914 ­ when gunfire remarkably gave way to gifts. It remains wholly relevant today, as a message of hope and humanity, even in the bleakest of times.

“Football, then as now, had the power to bring people together and break down barriers.”

The design for the memorial was chosen by The Duke of Cambridge and Arsenal and England star Theo Walcott, after the Football Remembers competition was opened to more than 30,000 schools across the UK. It was then brought to life by Westbury stonemason Nick Johnson.

Nick and his wife, Helen, travelled to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire for the official unveiling recently and met Prince William and England football manager Roy Hodgson.

“We had a fantastic day,” Nick told White Horse News. “We had the chance to chat with Prince William about the memorial. He asked me how long it had taken and apologised for taking so long to judge the entries! He was a very nice chap and very down to earth and he showed a real interest in how the memorial was made and said how great it looked. I also met Roy Hodgson so all in all, it was a really great day.”

Young Johnson, based at Westbury Cemetery and the West Wilts Trading Estate, is a specialist monumental masonry firm, specialising in memorial headstones, carvings, kitchen work areas, fireplaces and any other type of stone masonry. For more information call 01373 859629.