CWG: Pioneer William Pook

Pioneer William Pook

William Pook was born in 1869. There is little specific evidence available about his early life, but his service records confirm that he married Jessie Elizabeth Moxey on 25th January 1890: they went on to have four children.

The 1891 census records the young family living in the village of Highweek, near Newton Abbot in Devon, where William was working as a fellmonger, dealing in hides and sheepskins. This was a trade he continued through the years, and is confirmed as his line of work by the time of the 1911 census. At that point, the expanding family had moved from Highweek to nearby Wolborough.

War was coming to Europe and, in August 1915, at the age of 46, William joined up. His age suggests that this was something he did voluntarily – compulsory enlistment was only introduced the following year – and he joined the Royal Engineers as a Pioneer. The role was designed to relieve the infantry from some of the duties that kept them from the front line, effectively acting as a labour force to free up those who were fighting.

Pioneer Pook was sent to France in August 1915, remaining there for nine months. Health issues started to intervene, and, in June 1916, he was dismissed from military service as being medically unfit because of his asthma.

At this point, William’s trail goes cold. The next record confirms that he died on 27th October 1916, in Newton Abbot. No cause of death is evident, but it seems likely to have been related to his lung condition. He was about 47 years old.

William Pook was laid to rest in Newton Abbot Cemetery.


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