1914 - 2023

The Marston Lads

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Walter Poole

Died 14th November 1916

Aged 21

Motor Transport Section Army Service Corps

Alliance Salt Works Marston

Walter Poole was born in Marston 18th September 1895, and one of 12 children, of which 2 died in infancy. In 1911, the family lived within the Salt Works where Walter's father William Poole was a Rock Miner. Walter worked as a blacksmith striker, also at the Salt Works.

Walter married Clara between 1912 and 1914, and they had two children; Edna, born 24th September 1914, and Walter Cedric, born 25th November 1915.

Clara Poole.
Wife of Walter Poole.

Walter enlisted with the Motor Transport Section Army Service Corps in October 1916, and within five weeks, on the 14th November 1916 Walter Poole died of Pneumonia after being admitted to Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich.

My question is why did he die during training? It is known that nearly 30,000 soldiers died due to Pneumonia during WW1, but the majority of these deaths were down to poor living conditions in the trenches, often called 'Trench Fever'. But I do find it strange why a fit 21-year-old man died within five weeks of enlistment. Pneumonia is often a byproduct of other underlying health conditions, flu being one of them. My search has been made more difficult due to Walter Poole's enlistment records disappearing, all his other records are intact. With all deaths due to training and illness a Court of Inquiry would always be held; these records are also missing.

The failure to locate his enlistment, training and medical inquiry records, just adds to the mystery of his death.
The Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich.
'Walter Poole is brought home and a village mourns'
Northwich Guardian Friday November 24, 1916



As announced in last Friday’s “Guardian”, the death took place at Woolwich Hospital from an attack of pneumonia of Private Walter Poole of Marston. He had only joined the Army about five weeks previous, having enlisted in the
Motor Transport Section of the Army Service Corps. He was taken ill shortly after entering upon his training and was moved to hospital where he died on Tuesday last week.

He was 21 years of age and was married. He leaves a widow and two young children.

Mr J A Cowley, secretary to the Northwich and District Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association, communicated with the military authorities on behalf of the widow, and arrangements were made for the body to be brought home for interment.

The funeral, which was of a semi-military character, took place at Marston Churchyard on Sunday afternoon, and a very impressive service in the church was conducted by the vicar (the Rev. J T Evans). The body was borne to its last resting place by eight soldiers of the East Lancashire Regiment, now on military duty in the district – Sergeant H Grindley, Corporal Maclean, Private T Davies, T Morris, B Sheppard, W Humphreys, A Robinson and C Hughes.

The principal mourners were the widow and children, Mr William Poole (father), Jessie, Annie, Olive, Gladys, and Lizzie (sisters), *James, Arthur and Willie Poole(brothers), Mrs F Dalbert (mother in law), Miss L Dalbert (sister in law), Messrs John Matthews and William Holland (brothers in law), Mr William Holland Jnr (nephew) Sergeant William Taylor and Corporal James Poole (uncles), Mr and Mrs Thomas Poole (uncle and aunt), Mrs Thomas Ashley, and Mrs William Holland (aunts), Private William Holland, Corporal James Holland, Mrs T Taylor,
Mrs F Massey, and Mrs James Cowley (cousins).
Several friends also accompanied the cortege, and these included *Private William Nield, *Private T Barton, *Private Perrin, Mrs Nield and Mrs Eaton.
Floral tributes were sent by the widow and children, father and family, Jessie and Willie (sister and brother in law), Annie and John (sister and brother in law), Aunt Ellen and Uncle Walter, Aunt Polly and Uncle Tom, Mrs William
Holland (aunt), Mrs Fred Massey, Mrs James Cowley, and Mrs Tom Taylor (cousins), Mrs Ashley and Mrs Eaton.

*Coloured GOLD: All four of these Marston Lads at Walter Poole's funeral would die in future first world war battles, including James, his younger brother.

Walter is buried in Marston Cemetery and remembered on the Marston Memorial.
In April 1917, Walter Poole's Widow Clara, who was just 19 years of age and a war widow, and her two children, were awarded £2 & 2s War Gratuity.

In 1917, Clara and her children were living in Oldham. She later married again in 1918 when she was 22 years old. Her 2nd husband passed away in 1937. Clara would go on to lead a full life. She passed away in 1977, aged 80 years.

Tony Hayes