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Little Joan's gift of chocolate comforted a lonely soldier

A little girl’s gift of chocolate posted to the trenches led to a lasting correspondence with a lonely soldier.

When six-year-old Joan Burbidge sent some of her chocolate to the Western Front she had no thoughts beyond wanting to give cheer to the soldier who might receive it.

The packaging was found by Edwin Hassall who wrote to thank “Little Joan” and an enduring friendship was formed between the soldier and Joan’s family.

Joan’s father would read the soldier's letters aloud to the family at their home in Wadebridge, Cornwall.

They paint a vivid and often traumatic picture of life in the trenches.

Bombardier Hassall, the great uncle of one of our volunteers at Heartwood Forest in Hertfordshire, survived the war, perhaps thanks to the picture of Joan he carried in his pocket, and the family continued writing until his premature death in 1923.

Make your thank you last forever and dedicate one of millions of trees being planted in our First World War Centenary Woods to a brave soldier.