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The FA pays tribute to work of Commonwealth War Graves Commission

03 June 2016

The FA and England teams, along with the Premier League and Football League, are marking the centenary of the First World War between 2014 and 2018. On 1 July 2016, football will join the rest of the nation in paying its respects to those who took part in the Battle of the Somme in northern France which raged over 141 days until 18 November 1916.

The memorial activity coincides with England's involvement in UEFA EURO 2016 in France, with the squad heading to its Chantilly base just outside Paris on Monday 6 June. England internationals Joe Hart and James Milner have recorded a video message acknowledging those who lost their lives and the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

1 July 1916 remains the bloodiest day in British military history, with 19,240 British soldiers losing their lives and tens of thousands injured. Among those killed on that first day was Leeds and England footballer Lt Evelyn Lintott of the 15th (Service) Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment. Lintott is among more than 72,000 soldiers with no known grave commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing operated by the CWGC.

England manager Roy Hodgson said: "On behalf of the England staff and squad, I would like to say a sincere thank you to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for the very important work they do honouring our brave servicemen and women.

"This will be a very poignant summer as we look back to a century ago and it of course puts football in perspective. That said, sport has an incredible and unique power to educate, inspire and, most importantly, unite people of different backgrounds. All of us with the privilege of representing England and The FA will join the whole country in paying our respects when the nation remembers on 1 July."

Peter Francis, Commonwealth War Graves Commission spokesman, said: "The Battle of the Somme was one of the defining events of the First World War and the human cost of the offensive can still be seen in more than 250 cemeteries and memorials cared for by the CWGC in the Somme region.

"We are delighted that the FA and England players are helping us to raise awareness of the ongoing importance of visiting these places and remembering those who died. Together, we will reach out to new generations and help them discover the stories of those who gave so much on the field of battle a century ago."

FA Chairman Greg Dyke joined others from across English football in visiting Thiepval in 2014 on a trip organised by the Football League and FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn will accompany colleagues in a personal trip of remembrance on Tuesday 7 June.

Martin Glenn said:  "The FA recognises the magnitude of what happened in France 100 years ago this summer, particularly on the worst day in our military history. In so doing, it is important we also pay tribute to the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. They do so much to keep their memory alive.

"We also realise the responsibility we have to raise awareness and engage football fans - particularly younger supporters - as part of the wider national programme of events planned this year through to 2018.  The England players wanted to record messages of support while I and other members of The FA executive will be visiting Thiepval during the finals to pay our respects on behalf of the organisation. We will remember them."

Ends

Notes to editors

• To download the England player video, click here

• As part of its partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, The FA will be tweeting its support to @England and @CWGC using the hashtag #FootballRemembers

• For further information, contact:
Greg Demetriou, Head of Communications, The FA - greg.demetriou@thefa.com
Peter Francis, Media and Marketing Manager, CWGC - peter.francis@cwgc.org

Background

The FA will again be marking Armed Forces Day on Saturday 25 June. On 1 July, the Wembley Arch is set to be lit in remembrance along with a Football Remembers message on the external screens.

As part of our ongoing partnership, the CWGC and The FA will work together around the 11 November fixture against Scotland later this year. In particular, the aim is to promote the 'Living Memory' community project highlighting the 300,000 war graves in the UK - only France has more - and the work the CWGC does to ensure the 1.7m people who died in the two world wars will never be forgotten at 23,000 locations in 154 countries.

In December 2014, The FA staged a nationwide schools competition with the British Council to design a lasting tribute to the Christmas Truce story, when soldiers of both sides put down their weapons in the spirit of friendship on 25 December 1914. Spencer Turner's winning entry, chosen by FA President HRH The Duke of Cambridge and England's Theo Walcott, was placed at the National Memorial Arboretum. Joe Hart, Jack Butland and Nathan Redmond made a personal visit with Roy Hodgson and Gareth Southgate.

This was the highlight of a range of commemorative events under the Football Remembers campaign, including joint photographs being taken before matches at every level of English football, an exhibition at the National Football Museum and England players joining members of the Armed Forces at a poignant service of remembrance at St. George's Park. Football Remembers kicked off in May 2014 when the football partners launched an education resource pack that was sent to more than 30,000 schools across the UK.

The Premier League donated a 3G pitch - described as a 'living statue' - to the town of Ypres in December 2014 as part of its annual Premier League Christmas Truce International tournament.