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Date added: 15 November 2014

The Christmas Truce 

You've probably seen the advert - but Captain Mervyn Richardson from Purton was really there
 
And this is what he wrote back from the trenches after witnessing the Christmas truce on 25 December 1914, currently featured on our TV screens in an advertising campaign by Sainsburys.
 
Captain Mervyn Richardson of Purton House
"I will tell you of the extraordinary day we spent on Christmas Day.
 
On Christmas Eve we had a sing-song with the men in the trenches. We put up a sheet of canvas, with a large 'Merry Christmas' and a portrait of the Kaiser painted on it, on the parapet.
 
"The next morning there was a thick fog and when it lifted about 12, the Germans who were only about 150 yards in front of us saw it, they began to shout across, and beckoning to our men to come half way and exchange gifts.
 
"They came out of their trenches, and gave our men cigars and cigarettes, and 2 barrels of beer, in exchange for tins of bully beef.
 
"The situation was so absurd, that another officer of ours and myself went out and met seven of their officers and arranged that we should keep our men in their respective trenches, and that we should have an armistice until the next morning, when we should lower our Christmas card, and hostilities would continue.
 
 
"One of them presented me with the packet of cigarettes I sent you, and we gave them a plum pudding, and then we shook hands with them, and saluted each other, and returned to our respective trenches.
 
"Not a shot was fired all day, and the next morning we pulled our card down, and they put one up with 'thank you' on it".
 
Captain Mervyn Richardson, who lived at Purton House, was later killed in action aged 21 on the night of 19 March 1916 at Fricourt. He is buried in a military cemetery beside his two friends and fellow Officers who also died that night.
 
Learn more at Swindon Library
 
An exhibition of Purton and The Great War put together by the Purton Historical Society is currently on display at the main Swindon Central Library.
 
You can also learn more of Swindon and The Great War via the links below.
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