Sol­dier tells of role in WWI truce match

Ri­fle­man Read­ing played in his­toric foot­ball game

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Camilla Good­man camilla.good­man@trin­i­tymir­

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.


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