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The Thin Blue Line

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The European Cup

Captain Wilfred Percy Nevill, although commissioned in the 1st Bn., The East Yorkshire Regiment, had been attached to the 8th Bn., East Surrey Regiment since 1915.

Whilst on leave he had purchased four footballs, one for each of his platoons. His idea was that at the start of the first day of the Battle of the Somme the troops would kick the footballs through 'No Man's Land' in order to give them something to take their minds off the advance. 'Billie' as he was known, preferred this morale booster rather than the rum ration provided by other officers. The winner, the one who had kicked a ball as far as possible towards the German lines would receive a prize from the Captain. One of the balls was even inscribed 'The Great European Cup, The Final, East Surreys v Bavarians, Kick Off at Zero'.

The prize was never collected as Nevill was killed in action shortly after the start of the advance.

He is buried in Carnoy Military Cemetery on the Somme.


Two of the footballs were recovered after the battle and are now held by the National Army Museum and the Queen's Regiment Museum, Canterbury.

Dominique, who owns Le Tommy bar at Pozieres believes that he has found a third and is shown here proudly displaying the football in April 2001.

Dominique has also built a reproduction of a trench system in the garden at the back of the bar.