John Poole was the first 'Marston Lad' to be killed during the First World War on 17th November 1914. Although he was living in London Road Northwich at the time and working as a 'Sawyer' (someone who saws wood) he was born and bred in Marson and had family living there. John is not commemorated on the Marston Memorial, but it's only right that we remember him here. Once a Marston lad, always a Marston lad.
At the time of his death, his wife Margaret and his father, also named John, had both died, Margaret died in 1912. He had two children, a son George (aged 12) and a daughter Gertrude Maude (aged 20) both children orphaned following the death of their father, losing both parents within two years. Records show that both children received a war gratuity of 2 pounds, 5 shillings each. John's mother was still living, and we can only hope that both children went on to live with their grandmother, therefore finding some comfort. The only other option available in 1914 was the workhouse.
John was a soldier of the 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment and part of the initial 'British Expeditionary Force' (BEF) sent to stop Germany over-running the French and Belgium armies and then invading Northern France, which would of been a major threat to Britain.
Records show his regiment was involved in 'The Battle Of Mons' and this battle was the first direct fighting of World War One involving British and German troops. Just 4000 soldiers of the BEF arrived in time but waiting for them were 21,000 Germans. However, it was a critical victory for the Allies and John survived it.
John Poole was killed just a few months later during the 'First Battle of Ypres' in Belgium, a particular brutal period and later to be named 'Passchendaele' Given John's age of 44, indicates he was a regular Soldier.
The First Battle of Ypres saw the British army sustain 7,960 killed, 29,562 wounded, and 17,873 missing in just five weeks of intense fighting.
John's body was never found. His name is remembered with honour on The Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. The same gate he once first walked through into battle, and one day, for the last time.
John Poole and his late wife Margaret (date unknown)
Left: The Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium.