THE FIRST EVER PEACE PITCH IN SOUTH LONDON
For immediate release
The First Ever Peace Pitch in the Royal Borough of Greenwich
Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich in partnership with Charlton Athletic Community Trust, University of Greenwich and Charlton Athletic Museum have announced to twin the Royal Artillery’s Sports Pavillion football pitches with the Peace Pitch, Peace Village, Flanders Peace Field, Mesen, Belgium, site of the First World War, 1914, Christmas Truces. The International Peace Fields Project organized by The Children’s Football Alliance (CFA) currently has 68 peace pitches in 6 continents. The peace pitches commemorate all wars and celebrate peace through play. The Greenwich Peace Pitch will kick-start the Meridian Line Peace Field Projects and launch a branch for The Commonwealth Children’s Football Alliance.
The Childrens Football Alliance (CFA) are the custodians of the International Children’s Football Alliance. Their mission statement: Protect Childhood Through Play. Their peace education through play projects have brought children together for over 12 years.
The unique Peace Field Project Peace Pitch has been inspired by Herbert ‘Nobby’ Nightingale born in Silvertown in 1888 and later moved south of the Thames to Charlton where his family resided in a house at Mount Street. A keen footballer, whilst working at Seimens telegraph works, Nightingale joined Charlton Athletic FC as well as playing for Woolwich Polytechnic, now the University of Greenwich, and he was in the team when Charlton played in their first ever FA Cup match against Dartford in 1915. Nightingale joined up serving as a gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery at Woolwich, arriving in France on 6 June 1915. His unit were positioned south of Ypres, and on the night of the 11-12 January 1916, they were fired upon during the night, and Nightingale was killed. Charlton’s former player was buried not far from where he fell, behind the lines in R.E. Farm Cemetery, near Messines.
The twinning event 10am Thursday 19th October, Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich, Sports Pitches, will be attended by special guests and dignitaries, local primary Schools in the borough will be the first to play on the peace pitch.
Major Scott Sloan, Royal Artillery, said, ‘The Royal Regiment of Artillery was formed in Woolwich in 1716 and has had a presence in the town ever since. The Royal Artillery has been involved in every campaign in which the British Army has served, and in both the First and Second World Wars grew to over one million personnel. The current Barracks has existed since 1776 and remains the home of both the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and 100 (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery. Today, the sports pitches and Woolwich Common continue to be used for military training, sports and community events, and were a central part of the shooting events for the London 2012 Olympics.’
‘We are incredibly proud to be able to twin our sports pitches with the Peace Pitch at Flanders as part of the Peace Field Project. This twinning will provide another opportunity for remembrance of those who served in the Royal Artillery, or veterans from Woolwich and Charlton, many of whom making the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of our Nation and values.’
Ernie Brennan, Children’s Football Alliance, CEO, said, ‘There are rightfully many memorials to wars and unfortunately very few memorials to peace. The first ever peace pitch in South London is testament to Herbert Nightingale, all the parents, grandparents and families across the borough that value the power of sport to bring communities together.’
Mayor of Greenwich, Cllr Dominic Mbang, said, ‘I am delighted to attend the Unveiling of the Peace Field Project Plaque on Thursday 19th October 2023 at 10.00am, at the Royal Artillery Sports Pavilion.’
Charlton Athletic in the Community, said, ‘Charlton Athletic’s football in the community link with the Royal Artillery is perfectly connected through Herbert Nightingale. We are proud to honor a local man and facilitate children in the community playing football games on the first ever peace pitch in South London’.
University of Greenwich, Gavin Rand, said, ‘On behalf of the University of Greenwich I am very pleased to be involved in this important commemorative event’.
Charlton Athletic Museum Trustee Clive Harris said, ‘The Charlton Athletic Museum are delighted to be involved in this project as it highlights the long lasting links between Charlton Athletic FC and the military history of Woolwich and Charlton. The inscription on the grave of Herbert Nightingale reads “Let those that come after see, that this name is not forgotten”; the Peace Pitch initiative helps to do just that.’
David Ramzan, Children’s Football Alliance Project Manager, said, ‘As the CFA Peace Field Project Manager it was an honor to take on the role of twinning of the Royal Artillery pitch, especially as I was born in the borough, have supported Charlton Athletic since 1964, worked as a coach at the Charlton Athletic Community Trust, and have donated various items of football memorabilia from my collection to the Charlton Athletic Museum. While working on one of the Peace Field Twinning projects in Mesen, Belgium, site of the 1914 First World War Christmas Truces, I took the opportunity to visit the War Grave of Charlton’s former player, Herbert Nightingale, who we are remembering during the pitch twinning ceremony, and it was through a lot of hard work and research by the trustees of the Charlton Museum that Herbert, or Nobby as he was known, was discovered as one of three men associated with the club who lost their lives through war. The Royal Artillery Peace Field Pitch Twinning project brings not only the Woolwich Royal Artillery, Charlton Athletic Football Club, club sponsors the University of Greenwich and the Charlton Museum together in a valuable cause, it also brings together the wider community to remember a man that once loved this community.’