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World War I Tuesday, 3 November, 1998, 11:47 GMT
Letters home: Becoming a man
EJ 'Ted' Poole was the younger brother of a soldier who was killed at the third battle of Ypres in 1917.

The young Ted was conscripted in May 1918 and trained at Aldershot, from where the letter below was posted. It is clear he was replying to the concerned enquiries of his father, who, having already lost one son, wanted Ted to become a good soldier in the hope that it would improve his chances of survival.

Ted, who was sent to France in August 1918, wrote that he sure that the training would "either make a man of me or kill me". Scarcely two months later, on 13 October, he was killed in action. He was 18.

28th May, 1918,

Dear Father,

Just a few lines in answer to your letter which I received today.

Yes I have got used to the puttees, as they have shaped to my legs by now. And I am getting used to my other things now, as I have been dished out with a rifle and bayonet, and now when I go on parade I have got to wear my belt, bayonet and cartridge pouch and also take the rifle.

They have been teaching us bayonet fighting today and I can tell you it makes your arms ache, when you make a point that is, when you lunge out at imaginary enemy, with the rifle at arms length. I think with this hard training they will either make a man of me or kill me. You ought to see me in my Shrapnel Helmet and Gas Mask, it would make you laugh, especially as the helmet wobbles from side to side, every time I walk.

Yes I got my food alright and you can have supper if you like to go for it, and you can bet I always go for supper. I am taking your advice and eating all I can.

Yes I did remember Dolly's birthday and I have sent her a little badge of my Regiment which she asked for and which I expect you have received by now. You will have to tell Miss Farmer that I think she will have to wait another two months before she sees me on leave.

I will see the officer about the allowance in a day or so, as I have heard today that two or three boys mothers are receiving an allowance, but I don't know how much.

Well, I think I will have to close now. As I haven't anything more to say just at present. Hoping you are quite well.

From your loving son,

Ted.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
PS. Love to Dolly and Frank

After the war Ted Poole's family erected a headstone which bore the inscription, "Out of the stress of the doing, into the peace of the done". He is buried at Naves Communal Extension Cemetery, near Cambrai in France.

EJ Poole's letters are held in the documents library at the Imperial War Museum. Extracts are also published in Malcolm Brown's book 1918 Year of Victory.

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