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Dover College unveils statue of ex-pupil Capt Wilfred 'Billie' Nevill, famous for the First World War Football Charge

By Sam Lennon

A school will honour an old pupil and war hero who provided a remarkable morale booster for his men.

Capt Wilfred "Billie" Nevill got troops to kick two footballs as they charged across No Man's Land towards the enemy to help them keep their nerve.

Now, Dover College will unveil a statue in his honour at 10.30am in its chapel on Sunday, the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Wilfred "Billie" Nevill. Picture provided by Dover College.
Wilfred "Billie" Nevill. Picture provided by Dover College.

It will be part of the school's Remembrance service, which is expected to be attended by 200 people including descendants of Capt Nevill.

Even one of the footballs used in Capt Nevill's initiative will be brought along.

The famous Football Charge took place on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916.

100 years on - Kent remembers (5238472)
100 years on - Kent remembers (5238472)

He was the commander of B Company of the Royal East Surrey Regiment and his men left their trenches to attack German positions 300 yards away.

Capt Nevill had brought the footballs as a reassuringly familiar symbol as they made the terrifying charge forward.

The military objective was achieved, though many men were mown down by machine gun fire and Capt Nevill was also killed. He was 21.

Capt Nevill had excelled as a scholar and games player at Dover College.

He was in the school rugby, hockey and running teams and was captain of the Cricket XI.

He went onto Cambridge University but his studies were cut short by the war.

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