Private Charles Halstead POOLE

Northumberland Fusiliers
1st Battalion
Service Number:
(Formerly: TR/5/1820)
Date of Death:
20 November 1917 - Died
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Bay 2 & 3

Personal History:

Charles was born in the June quarter 1883 at Dane-in-Shaw, Congleton, the son of Albert William (Silk Thrower then Domestic Coachman) and Esther Poole. He had two older brothers, Henry James Archibald and Herbert Ernest, and a younger sister, Georgina. (1891 Census RG 12/2845). Sometime in the next decade Charles' father died, as the 1901 Census (RG 13/3349) shows Charles living with his widowed mother and sister at 10 Lion Street, Congleton. After the War Esther was living at 10 Thomas Street, Congleton, Cheshire.
In the September quarter 1909 Charles married Esther Ann Moss, and they had two children, Alfred and Kathleen. In 1911 (Census RG 14/21237) they were living at 76 Macclesfield Old Road, Burbage, at the home of Esther's parents, John and Hannah Moss. Charles was employed as a "House Painter". In the June quarter 1913 Charles and Esther had another son, George H. After the War Esther lived at Knox Cottage, West Road, Buxton.

Military History:
Charles initially enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers at Buxton. His Service papers have not survived and without them it is not possible to say what his War service postings were. His Medal Index Card shows that he entered the War in France after 31st December 195, as he was not eligible for the 1914-15 Star, however, his original Service Number, TR/5/1820, shows he was a member of the Territorial Force, and by comparing with others with similar numbers suggest an enlistment date in March 1916. By a similar process of deduction, Charles' posting to the 1st Battalion would have been around October / November 1916.

The 5th TR Battalion had been formed in August 1914 in Hexham, part of Northumberland Brigade, Northumbrian Division. A year later, in April 1915, the Division landed in France and the following month became 149th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division. The 1st Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, were in Portsmouth at the start of the War, part of 9th Brigade, 3rd Division, and landed at Le Havre on the 14th August 1914. [See Footnote below]

In 1917 the Charles' 3rd Division were engaged in The Battle of Arras (9th April - 16th May), and in particular the actions during The First Battle of the Scarpe, (9th - 14th April); Second Battle of the Scarpe (23rd -24th April) and The Battle of Arleux (28th - 29th April). Later in the year came The Third Battle of Ypres, (31st July - 10th November) and the Division fought at The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, (20th - 25th September), immediately followed by The Battle of Polygon Wood, (26th September - 3rd October).

Charles' date of death coincides with the opening day of the Battle of Cambrai on the 20th November 1917. This Battle is often identified as the first demonstration of the sophisticated techniques and technologies required to affect such a battle. On that day, the British attack broke deeply and quickly into apparently impregnable defences with few casualties. The 1st Northumberland Fusiliers were in action. The 3rd Division was partaking in a diversion for the battle of Cambrai and were attacking the area of Bovis Trench east of Bullecourt to complete the capture of that part of the Hindenburg Line which the fighting in the summer had failed to complete.

One Officer and 23 other ranks, including Charles, were killed on the 20th November 1917. His Medal Index Card is endorsed "Pres. Dead", and the SDGW database gives his cause of death as "Died", i.e. not 'of wounds'. It is not surprising, therefore, that Charles has no known grave, and, like 21 of his comrades who died that day, is commemorated on The Arras Memorial.

· Another option is that Charles had served earlier in the War, been wounded and renumbered TR/5/1820, before being sent back and renumbered
  in his new unit 36947. To support this, a Soldier of the Battalion with the Service Number 36973 enlisted on the 9 Sept 1914.
  Alternatively, he could have served with a Regimental Reserve unit, which was then converted to a Training Reserve Battalion. Roughly
  around about 1,000 men, renumbered from 36189 to around 37130, followed this route into overseas Service. Enlistment dates have no
  obvious sequence, ranging from 1915 through to 1917.

· Another Buxton casualty, Pt. John Charles WHEATLEY, also of the 1st Battalion, was killed in action on the 26 September 1917.
  His Service Number, 36977 (Formerly: TR/5/1830) is very close to Charles' and their period of Service must have been very similar.

· I am grateful to Colin Taylor, John Sheen and Graham Stewart for information on the numbering system and the Battalion History.

Link to CWGC Record
The Arras Memorial
Charles' name on the Memorial