First world war soldiers' historic football saved for posterity

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A leather football that British soldiers dribbled through no man's land while coming under machine-gun fire during a first world war battle has been saved for posterity after being discovered in an old box.

Members of the London Irish Rifles soccer team smuggled the ball out of their own trenches – against orders – during the battle of Loos in 1915 and passed it among themselves, determined to boot it into the German lines.

They didn't make it and the ball ended up pierced on barbed wire. It was retrieved from the battlefield, displayed for a while at the regimental museum and eventually stored in a container, forgotten and in danger of perishing.

The ball has now been conserved by experts and is to go back on display this weekend at the regimental museum in Camberwell, south-east London.

Nigel Wilkinson, vice-chairman of the London Irish Rifles Regimental Association, said the soldiers originally had six balls that they planned to take with them into no man's land but their commanding officer shot five of them when he heard what was being planned....

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