A heartwarming story from World War One has be made into a play by Historia Theatre Company and it will be shown at the OSO Arts Centre, Barnes in November.

Dear Chocolate Soldier is based on the real letters of Bombardier Edwin Hassall, who served in the trenches in the Somme throughout the First World War.

In 1916, a six year-old girl from Cornwall named Joan Burbridge watched as her father wrapped up a packet of chocolate for the brave soldiers on the Front. A thought struck her: “How will the soldier know the chocolate is from me?”

Her father decided to write on the packet: “From Little Joan, Whiterock, Wadebridge, Cornwall”. The chocolate was sent to France, where it was received by Hassall. Intrigued and touched, he decided to write back to Joan.

The play dramatises the incredible correspondence that formed between the two, interspersed with poetry and popular songs from the period.

Kate Glover, who edited and dramatised the letters, explains the detective work required to find Edwin Hassall’s descendants: “All I knew was that a hundred years ago, the Hassall family lived in Leek. So I phoned the Leek Town Hall, and miraculously, the clerk who answered the phone knew all about the Chocolate Soldier! She helped me to get in touch with Richard Hassall, the great nephew of Edwin."

The show premiered in Leek in May, and has been touring around the country throughout the Summer. Richard Hassall managed to see a performance of the show in Foxlowe and enjoyed it, describing the show as a “superb creation."

With the centenary of the Armistice approaching next month, a play like Dear Chocolate Soldier is as important and relevant as ever. As Glover explains: “Edwin Hassall had a gift for writing, despite leaving school at the age of fourteen. His letters present an Everyman figure, a person who could easily have been German, Russian or French. As a witness to both the horrors of war and its human dimension, the play is a moving experience.”

Dear Chocolate Soldier is taking place at The OSO Arts Centre, Barnes, from November 6-10 at 8:00 pm, with a Saturday matinée at 4:00 pm. Tickets are £12 for adults and £10 for concessions, and can be booked by calling the Box Office at 020 8876 9885 or online at www.osoarts.org.uk