Lieutenant Edward Gordon Pool

 

Unit : No.5 Platoon, "B" Company, 7th Parachute Battalion

Service No. : 288331

Awards : Military Cross

 

When Pool joined the British Army as a common soldier he had intended to join the Brigade of Guards, however the Recruiting Sergeant he met with decided otherwise and posted him to a battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. He had earned a promotion to Corporal when his commanding officer, noticing his education, recommended that he apply for a commission. This he did and, after several attempts, via the Royal Ulster Rifles, he successfully joined the Parachute Regiment and was posted to the 7th Battalion. During a training exercise with an Army battle school in the New Forest, Pool was amongst a group of men taken out into the countryside and abandoned several miles from a rendezvous, which they had to reach whilst other troops attempted to capture them. His fellow students, and indeed the officers of the school, were determined to beat any wearer of the flashy red beret, however they were disappointed on this occasion as Pool reached the rendezvous well in advance of the remainder. The Colonel of the school, however, wrongly suspected that Pool had cheated and made use of roads and railway lines to speed his passage, and as a result when the party prepared to return to camp he left Pool where he was and told him to find his own way back. Pool silently refused to obey this order and hitched a ride back to camp, clinging to the rear of the Colonel's staff car. The speed with which he "ran" the five miles was surely noticed, however the Colonel made no objection and gave Pool a glowing report.

 

Unlike many other parachutists on the 6th June, Lieutenant Pool and the vast majority of No.5 Platoon landed successfully and quickly arrived at the rendezvous. During the advance to relieve Major Howard's men at the bridges, Pool heard German voices behind a nearby hedgerow and quickly threw a grenade behind it, resulting in some of the enemy fleeing and one wounded man being left behind. No.5 Platoon held a number of houses in Le Port on the 6th June, which they held throughout despite constant enemy pressure. As a result of his actions on this day, Pool was awarded the Military Cross:

 

Lieutenant Pool's platoon were required to hold an outpost on the western bridgehead held by the airborne troops over the Caen Canal at Benouville. He held this outpost for 21 hours on 6th June 44, during which time he was almost continuously attacked by superior forces. Lieutenant Pool's personal example, cheerfulness and bravery were an inspiration to all who served under him. In addition he led numerous offensive patrols which played a material part in the successful action of his battalion.

 

On the 18th June, with the Battalion now based in the Bois de Bavent, "B" Company was ordered to carry out an attack on a farmhouse that was known to be held by the Germans. The farm was later christened "Bob's Farm" by the men of the 7th Battalion, named after Pool's new company commander, Major Keene. As the Company was preparing to advance, after a barrage put down by the 53rd Airlanding Light Regiment ceased, Lieutenant Pool reported to Keene that a German machine-gun outpost had been spotted on the Company's left flank and was, therefore, a clear danger to the attack. Keene quickly reorganised his strategy and ordered Pool to take out the machine-gun whilst the remainder of "B" Company proceeded as planned. Despite heavy losses, the remainder of the Company successfully attacked the Farm whilst Pool and his runner dealt with the gun. This they did, however a German multi-barreled mortar opened fire on the area shortly after and both men were hit. His runner was killed, and Pool lost a foot as well as suffering further wounds to his legs and right hip. He was taken back to the Main Dressing Station and evacuated from Normandy.

 

Edward Pool passed away on the 1st January 2013. The following is his obituary, as printed in the Daily Telegraph:

 

Edward Pool, who has died aged 90, won an MC after parachuting into Normandy on D-Day. In the early hours of 6th June 1944, Pool, a platoon commander serving with the 7th Battalion the Parachute Regiment, was dropped near Le Port, a small village close to what is now Pegasus Bridge.

 

His battalion had been ordered to hold the western approach to the bridge, which crossed the Caen Canal at Bénouville. Success would aid the bridge's capture by the glider-borne "coup de main" company of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry .

 

At first light, Para's deployed in the area came under fire from a group of German snipers ensconced in the church tower at Le Port. An anti-tank grenade was fired, blowing a hole in the tower and silencing the snipers, but not before one of the Para's had been shot in the head.

 

As the invasion forces consolidated their position during the ensuing days, more attacks were made by the battalion to dislodge pockets of defending Germans. On June 18, while trying to knock out a machine-gun post in the Bois de Bavent, Pool was hit in the leg, hip and groin, and a phosphorus grenade in his ammunition pouch was ignited by one of the shots.

 

He was dragged to safety by Sgt McCambridge and some riflemen, and endured weeks of great pain and semi-consciousness until he found himself back in a recuperation centre in England having lost a leg. He was awarded a Military Cross for his inspirational leadership and courage in holding an outpost on the western bridgehead for 21 hours while under constant attack by superior forces.

 

Edward Gordon Pool was born on December 18 1922 in Hampstead and educated at Cheltenham College. He was commissioned into the Royal Irish Fusiliers but subsequently joined the Parachute Regiment and was posted to the 7th Battalion. As he drove into the barracks in his first car, a diminutive Austin 7, the RSM remarked: "Trying to make love in that contraption must be like attempting to play a trombone in a telephone kiosk." In the immediate post-war years, despite his artificial leg, Pool was determined to lead as full a life as possible, and he took up skiing, sailing, mountaineering and amateur motor racing. He had a succession of lively motor cars, including a Red Label Bentley, various Lea Francis sports cars, a Type 35 Bugatti, an ERA and a Rolls-Royce. In his seventies, he switched to rally driving, which he enjoyed until he was well into his eighties.

 

On one occasion, racing his Bugatti, he overturned the car on a bend. An ambulance crew rushed to his aid and asked him if he was hurt. They were momentarily perplexed when he replied: "I'm fine except that I've broken my ruddy leg." It was the wooden one. His father - the owner of a prosperous wholesale meat business - had died in 1942, and his elder brother had been killed during the war flying Spitfires; so it fell to Ted Pool to take over the enterprise.

 

He had, however, a profound distaste for the abattoirs and the business was sold. In the mid 1950’s he married Diana Veasey, but the marriage was later dissolved and he fell deeply for Elisabeth Frink, the sculptor. They married in 1964 and later moved to Cevennes in France. Pool became a diligent viticulturist while his wife established a studio.

 

Eventually this marriage too came to an end and Pool moved back to London. After a third, but brief, marriage, he met Christabel Briggs, a director of the Piccadilly Gallery in Cork Street, and in 1981 they married. He considered a final appointment as secretary of the Beefsteak Club a decided bonus at his stage in life and continued in the role successfully until he retired aged 70.

 

In retirement he enjoyed travelling to France, bird watching, reading and writing. Ted Pool's wife survives him with a son and daughter of his first marriage.

 

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