RESEARCHERS are looking for an East Lancashire connection to one of the First World War's strangest tales.

Amid the killing fields of 1914 Europe, Christmas Eve is supposed to have brought a strange peace to the trenches, as soldiers from the German and English armies kicked off games of football.

For decades, the tale has been shrouded in mystery, with historians unsure of the truth.

Now Iain Adams, a lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire's Cumbria campus, is looking into the rumours, and has helped unearth links to East Lancashire that he would love to follow up.

He said: "There is a mention of a Lieutenant CEM Richards of the East Lancashire Regiment who received an order to fill in the bomb craters and start a game. But he tore up the orders because he didn't believe in fraternising with the enemy.

"It's interesting that the battalion HQ were trying to organise a game but someone lower down in the pecking order didn't think it was right." Blackburn was the centre of the the East Lancashire Regiment, now known as the Queen's Lancashire Regiment (QLR).

And the Lancashire Fusiliers, based in Bury, are also thought to have a connection.

The Fusiliers' A Company are believed to have played a game just north of the small town of Le Touquet where they used a ration tin as a football and lost three-two to the Germans.

Iain said: "People say it can't have happened, because the front lines were just a frozen swamp in the middle of a war. But I am convinced it did."

Iain, principal lecturer in outdoor education at the University, will be completing his work by Easter next year.

It is to be published in the International Journal of the History of Sport, and he plans to write a primary school Christmas play on the subject.

Now the lecturer is calling on East Lancashire residents to come forward with any information they might have on the subject, in the form of war diaries or letters home, to help in his research.

And Lieutenant Colonel John Downham, Regimental Secretary for the QLR, said: "It's quite a remarkable event.

"Both the first and second battalions of the East Lancs Regiment were involved in games of football."

Write to Iain at: The Department of Tourism and Leisure Management, UCLan, Preston, PR1 2HE.