In the early hours of June 6 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, Paras 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 Paras 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-1950s 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 Cévennes 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.
Courtesy of the Daily TelegraphRead More