Poole First World War Timeline Reaches 100 Records on the Centenary of the Battle of Amiens

The Poole First World War Timeline is a fascinating chronological catalogue of events from 1914 to just after the end of the War. It brings to life the impact of the war on Poole and those who lived in the town against a backdrop of the major historical events. It is appropriate that this point has been reached as August 8 is the centenary of the Battle of Amiens which was a major turning point in the war and marked the beginning of the end of the conflict.

The timeline is being created using the resources of the Poole History Centre and, in particular, the East Dorset Herald newspaper so as to bring a local aspect to an international conflict.

Each record has information about an event for a particular day and there is often a link to more information which means that the timeline can act as a gateway to further resources. It is also not a static record because new or additional information is always being added.

But what can we learn about the First World War and Poole? The timeline describes major events, such as the Battle of Verdun, the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, and the Battle of Jutland, but its uniqueness is that it places these against the effect of the war at a local level.

So, for instance, we learn that a letter was published in the East Dorset Herald on 7 September 1914 asking for the loan of bicycles to help Poole Sea Scouts patrol Sandbanks. This was an important role because many places along the coast were fearful of spies being landed and there were concerns over a possible naval attack.

The First World War was a time of social change within the town. It was considered noteworthy that, as reported in the East Dorset Herald newspaper of 2 September 1915, three women were now working in the Poole postal area.

The First World War involved everybody in the town. A tank, which was a British invention, visited many towns and cities in the country to raise funds for the war effort. When one came to Poole in June 1918, Poole Secondary School pupils were praised for purchasing over £1000 of war certificates.


First World War Tank on Poole Quay from the collection of Poole Museum

What has been surprising when looking at the local newspaper is just how much was done through charity and fund-raising. For example, money was raised for many local hospitals, such as the Cornelia Hospital, to look after wounded soldiers, to provide food parcels for POWs and to provide warm clothing for soldiers. It also extended to providing, for example, hospital and refreshment vans. We take for granted the National Health Service and the Welfare State and it is hard to understand what life would have been like in their absence at a time of major disruption. Families were being torn apart through bereavement and wounded soldiers needed hospitals and after-care. There was great uncertainty and social upheaval during the war, but this continued after the Armistice was signed when hundreds of thousands of men returned home not knowing if they had a job, a home or a family.

Poole, the First World War and its Legacy timeline

Military Appeal Tribunals Part 2: ‘Are There Any Women Here Today?’


‘Australian Sketches Made on Tour, p.30. Harry Furniss. Public Domain’

Women were largely represented in the local appeal tribunals through the words of others.

Although women had been earning law degrees since 1888, at the time of the First World War they could not technically graduate or have their degrees awarded to them. This was compounded in 1913 when the Law Society refused to let four women sit the Law Society examinations. These women took their case to the court of appeal, but the court decided in the Society’s favour, Mr. Justice Joyce ruling that, ‘women were not ‘persons’ within the meaning of the 1843 Solicitors Act.’

It would remain this way until the Sex Disqualification Act of 1919. Therefore, they would not be representing the men appealing for exemption for military service as Harold Salt (a solicitor from Bournemouth) would do so often throughout 1916 to 1918.

However, there was at least one woman out of the thirteen people who made up the Poole Tribunal Board. Her name was Edith Cloutman. Born Edith Hicks, she was married to a builder’s clerk named Sidney Thomas Cloutman and they lived on Curtis Road in Upper Parkstone. When she was voted onto the local tribunal board in 1916 she was already a member of the Poole Board of Guardians, representing Parkstone East, and had been doing so for some time prior to 1914.

In 1921 she would be appointed as a magistrate, one of two women to do so that year – the other being Mrs. Reginald Fawkes. These two would be the first women appointed as magistrates in Poole.

The Bournemouth Guardian for 3rd December 1921 would describe Edith as:

‘[A] Labour Party nominee, she is a good worker upon the Board of Guardians, but has not yet obtained success in her attempts to capture a seat upon the Council. Her quiet, practical wisdom and sane judgement will be of value on the Bench, as will her sympathy with the unfortunate.’

In 1916, though, all that lay ahead.

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