‘Astonishing’ Antiques Roadshow expert blown away by ‘very rare’ letter from WWI trenches

Antiques Roadshow: Ornate clock valued at £12.5K

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During a classic episode of Antiques Roadshow, Fiona Bruce and the team set up inside the Farnborough wind tunnels, a site of important aeronautical research in the 20th century. Guests had poured in to value their most precious possessions. One gentleman had brought in a handwritten letter to be examined. Upon closer inspection, the BBC expert was left in shock by the item and claimed it was an “incredibly important historical” document.

The guest explained to viewers at home: “This is a letter from my uncle who was a Sergeant Major in the Grenadier Guards.”

He continued: “[In] 1940, in France. 

“There was actually a witness to the Christmas Day truce and the football match.” 

The match in question saw German and British soldiers lay down their weapons to play football around the festive milestone.

“Because it is actually mentioned in his letter,” he added.

The TV auctioneer read out the handwritten letter: “Oh I see, here it says he has buried 69 men,

“Then, a football kicked out of our trenches,” he continued.

The Sergeant had revealed how the impromptu football match soon broke out between the two sides when a ball was kicked out from the British lines into no man’s land.

The BBC specialist added: “[The] Germans and [the] English played football.

“Isn’t that astonishing?” He exclaimed.

“This man [Sergeant Barker] was a witness to that very famous event.”

Rodney Barker, the Sergeant’s nephew, found the letter when he was going through old documents shortly after his mother’s death.

Rodney pointed out: “And it was disputed that it ever took place for a long time by the power’s that be.”

Fascinated by the letter, the collector on hand said: “I find that astonishing, it’s an incredibly important historical letter.”

He added: “Letters like this often have very very little value outside the family but in this instance…

“I think it does have value,” the expert confessed.

After much consideration, the presenter told Rodney: “I think a collector of First World War memorabilia would easily pay £150 for it.”

“Really?” The guest wondered.

Before the host added: “Maybe even more because it mentions that event.” 

Without hesitation, Rodney said: “Well, it needs to be presevered for posterity.”

Antiques Roadshow continues on BBC One on Sunday, January 2 at 8pm.

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