William Cedric Poole .jpg

Introduction

My husband and I are quite unusual as we both had fathers who fought in the First World War and both had us, their children, late in their lives.

My father, William Cedric Poole, was conscripted in November 1917 (aged only 18 on 16 October) and was captured at, what he calls, the 2nd Battle of the Somme, 27th May 1918.  In fact we've discovered that it was the Battle of the Aisne which was on that day.  He was shot and became a GermanPOW until the end of the war. He subsequently joined the GWR in 1919 eventually becoming a Railway Signalman, work which he held until retirement in 1968.

Unfortunately his Service Record, like many others was a casualty of German bombing in WW2. I have pieced together his record from documents he retained and internet records. 

He was working for Lucas Electrical, Birmingham, enlisted in 1917 and was involved in the 2nd battle of the Somme in May 1918. He caught a bullet wound in the left leg and shrapnel in the right knee and taken as a prisoner of war. He was sent first to a hospital camp in Germany, which he said was quite primitive, and then to a convalescent POW camp in Crossen on Oder on the Polish border. Crossen on Oder is now in Poland and has been renamed Krosno Ordzanskie. 

His reconstructed story is as follows:  He was enlisted 16 November 1917 just a month after his 18th birthday in the Devonshire Regiment. After partial training at Rollestone near Amesbury (53rd YS*), Norwich (51st & 52nd YS) and Taverham near Norwich (A Company 51st Graduated Battalion) he embarked for active service on 26 April 1918. He was attached to 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment. His first Active Service Pay Book payment entry is 8th May 1918. 


* YS =Young Soldier

Whilst the War Diary entry for the 27th on is very brief, the account given in '2nd Devonshires at Bois Des Buttes' extract gives a vivid account of the vicious fighting during the period 27th to 31st May. Also the raw 18 year old additions to battalion strength are also commented on.  He was, as he says, under fire on the 27th of May and research has revealed that he took part in the fierce Bois de Buttes battle part of the Battle of the Aisne, was captured and spent the rest of the war as a P.O.W. His Active Service Pay Book reveals that sadly all the officers that signed off his Pay Book payment entries ( J Milner, S H Cox and J A Fergusson) either died or were reported missing in the action. 


Name: William Cedric Poole 
Military Year: 1914-1920 
Rank: Private 
Medal Awarded: British War Medal and Victory Medal 
Regiment or Corps: Devonshire Regiment 
Regimental Number: 74090 
Previous Units: 9th Devons. 74090 Pte., 2nd Devons.