William Poole was born in 1882 at Scarborough, the third son of George Russell Poole, then a schoolmaster, and his wife Clara. His father had been awarded a Licentiate of Theology at Durham in 1870, a member of University College, and had been ordained at Durham, serving first as Curate of Pelton and then Cleethorpes; he would go on to serve as vicar of Wartling, East Sussex, from 1890 to 1914. The 1881 census records several students boarding with the Pooles at Uplands House in Scarborough St Martin’s parish, and William Poole was presumably educated at home before following his father to University College at Durham, where he matriculated as an Arts student in the Michaelmas term of 1902.
He is recorded as having been in attendance at Durham for only one year, his first term as a probationer; he is not known to have passed any exams towards his degree. The Durham University Journal notes Poole’s presence in his college’s cricket team, playing the College of Science in the Grey Cup. In a low scoring game Poole made one run before being stumped, and the match was lost. He also served on the committee for the annual Athletic Sports meeting on the Racecourse in May 1903. His career after this date is not yet known.
During the war William Poole served with the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers. He was promoted from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant on 1 July 1917, but which was not Gazetted until after his death on 16 November. From 17-20 September 1917 the 5th Battalion was in the front line at Guémappe, south-east of Arras. The unit’s war diary (WO 95/2828/2) records their section of the line was then being heavily shelled and mortared. Suspecting enemy working in no-man’s land, battle patrols and listening patrols were sent out on 19 and 20 September but encountered no enemy. It was probably on such a patrol on 19 September that William Poole was killed, aged 36. Another man was killed the same day, and two other ranks wounded. The war diary includes a helpful trench map, from which the battalion’s exact position at this time can be determined.
Lieutenant William Poole was buried at Heninel Communal Cemetery Extension, rather than Guémappe British Cemetery. His father had died at Guy’s Hospital in February 1917, though the family was then resident at 20 Linton Road, Hastings. His mother, to whom probate was granted, later moved to 16 St John’s Terrace, Woodbridge in Suffolk. He was also survived by his elder brother, Cyril Cecil Poole (b. 1871), a surgeon by then retired. William Poole’s sacrifice is recorded on a memorial plaque formerly located in the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers Drill Hall at Walker in Newcastle upon Tyne, and now in Christ Church Walker parish church. He is also remembered in the university’s Roll of Service (1920).