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Your Borough Of Poole

Poole’s part in World War 1

Poole’s fighting men

At the time the war started Poole was a much smaller conurbation covering Hamworthy, Oakdale, Branksome and Sandbanks. Approximately 10,000 men from Poole took part in World War 1. 

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Map of Poole's boundaries during the First World War

The local section of the Naval Reserve was one of the first groups of men to leave Poole on 6 August 1914. They were given a civic farewell outside the Customs House from the Mayor of Poole, Councillor G Kentish, and Members of the Corporation (pre Borough of Poole). In wishing the reservists ‘good bye’ and ‘good luck’ in the name of the town, the Mayor expressed the hope that they would maintain the honourable traditions of the ancient Borough. After the Rector of Poole, The Rev H Lawrence Phillips, gave prayer, the men marched to the railway station to catch the 1.43pm train to Portsmouth. They were accompanied by cheering crowds and headed by flag bearers and the Poole Town Band. Before the train left the band played Rule Britannia and Auld Lang Syne.

Poole’s cordite factory

Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, insisted that the Royal Navy had their own independent supply of cordite, which was used in navy shells. In 1914 a site at Holton Heath was chosen to manufacture cordite due to its remote location, away from centres of population, and its good transportation links, on a backwater of Poole Harbour, adjacent to the London and South Western Railway, and the A351 Wareham to Poole road.

Many women in Poole went to work in the factory. They had to wear special shoes that did not cause sparks so as not to ignite the factory.

Returning heroes

Unfortunately around 1,000 Poole men did not return home after World War 1. Many of the men that survived had been in prison of war camps, been gassed, were shell shocked and suffered from injuries. It took time for them to adjust to home life again.

World War 1 had a huge impact on families. It changed the role of women in the household as while their men were away many women worked in factories. They suddenly had to make decisions that previously the men would have made. When their men came home it was often difficult to go back to how things were.


Poole’s part in World War 1