Frank Lockley knew little about the Worcestershire Regiment, and even less about the events of Saturday, October 31, 1914, until he started looking into one corner of his family's history.
In it sat his great aunt, Louisa Barnett, whose first husband – Frank's great uncle – had died in 1897.
Then George Poole came into her life. He’d already been a Worcester for seven years. They married on July 18, 1909.
Sgt Poole survived the charge to Gheluvelt Chateau but, when the call came to sweep through the village, clearing the burning houses of the remaining German troops, he set off and did his duty, as you can read below.
Frank has lent his voice to the Gheluvelt documentary. He reads some of the names on the Roll of Honour, starting with his great-uncle.
And has has penned these words to explain how, out of nowhere, the gallantry of his great-uncle – pictured right, courtesy of the Mercian Regiment Museum (Worcestershire) – and the other 2nd Worcesters became part of his life.
In 20 minutes, the story unfolded
George Frederick Poole was the husband of a great aunt of mine, Louisa Barnett, a sister of my paternal grandmother.
I came across him while researching my family tree. Louisa was one of six children and, after finding marriage details and family details of the other five siblings, details of Louisa’s line proved elusive both in census records and any possible marriage.
Eventually I found her in the 1911 census, but not in the UK. She was in Jhansi, India, in married quarters of the 2nd Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment. She was listed with her son George, aged 10 months.
Another online search came up with a possible marriage to a George Poole (in 1909) and, going back to the census, Corporal George Poole was also found in Jhansi.
So, a small brick wall in my family history had been knocked down – important, as my father had often spoken about his Aunt Louie.
Thinking I might find a little more about why the family was in India at that time, I did a quick online search for the Worcestershire Regiment, military history not being part of my usual research areas.
This was in 2010, so some time before we would all learn so much about the Great War. Looking through the Worcester Regiment website – www.worcestershireregiment.com – was the first time I’d heard of the Battle of Gheluvelt.
Reading through that article, I came across the following, describing the action after the battalion had reached the grounds of the Chateau:
… but the village of Gheluvelt, on the slope above the right flank, was still in the enemy's hands. Most of the German troops in the village seem to have been drawn northwards by the fighting around the Chateau; but a certain number of Saxons of the 242nd Regiment had remained in the village, whence they opened a fire which took the sunken road in enfilade. To silence that fire Major Hankey sent fighting patrols from the front line into the village. Those patrols drove back the German snipers and took some prisoners. In that fighting Sergt. P. Sutton showed great bravery. Attacking a German machine-gun single-handed he captured one of its team and put the gun out of action. Sergt. Sutton was subsequently awarded the DCM. During that patrol fighting in the village, Lieut. Haskett-Smith was severely wounded and Sgt. G. F. Poole was killed.
So, in the short time of maybe just 20 minutes’ research, I’d found the elusive marriage of my great aunt – and then discovered that her husband had been killed in such a momentous day in the early months of the war.