Soldier tells of role in WWI truce match
Rifleman Reading played in historic football game
A BUCKINGHAMSHIR soldier who fought in th First World War wa involved in the Christma Truce, which happene 100 years ago tomorrow.
Thanks to this year’s Sainsbury’s Christmas advert, more people than ever are aware of the Christmas Truce of 1914 which saw German and British soldiers cross trenches to mingle, play football and exchange food, souvenirs and seasonal greetings.
Rifleman J Reading, of Germain Street, Chesham, was at the Christmas Truce and he wrote to his wife about it.
The letter was published in the Examiner on January 8, 1915.
It read: “During the early part of the morning the Germans started singing and shouting, all in good English. They shouted out “Are you the Rifle Brigade; have you a spare bottle? If so we will come half way and you come the other half.” At 4am part of their band played some Christmas carols and God Save the King and Home Sweet Home. You could guess Soldiers laid down their arms and played football during the Christmas truce of 1914; below, Reverend Simon Cansdale infront of the names on the war memorial; he found the letter from Rifleman Reading our feelings. Later on in the day they came towards us, and our chaps went out to meet them. Of course neither of us had any rifles. I shook hands with some of them, and they gave us cigarettes and cigars. We did not fire that day, and everything was so quiet that it seemed like a dream. We took advantage of the quiet day and brought our dead in.
Reverend Simon Cansdale stumbled across the letter while doing research for the church’s annual carol service.
Rev Cansdale spoke about the letter at the two carol services on Sunday and on Christmas Day parishioners will recreate the game of football at the 10.30am service.
Rev Cansdale said: “I was quite surprised to find out about Rifleman Reading. The truce took a lot of courage from the soldiers, to think if only we’d built on that we could’ve spared ourselves another four years of warfare.”
Rifleman Reading is listed on the church’s war memorial as well as the one in The Broadway.
St Mary’s war records show that Rifleman Reading was in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. He was killed in 1916.