By Maureen Storey
This article was published in the August 2014 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society
Army service records are generally dry, impersonal documents, giving the bare facts about a soldier and his career. Occasionally, however, there is an item that reminds us that each death is a personal tragedy. Such is the case with the service records of Stanley Wilfred Soole.
Stanley, the son of John and Hephzibah (nee Lowry) Soole, was born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, in 1898. When he enlisted in the Lincolnshire Regiment in January 1916, he was a mineral water worker and was described as 5 ft 6 ½ in tall and weighing 120 lbs. Stanley went through basic training and arrived in France on 17 October 1916. He was killed in action on 13 September 1918 and is buried in the Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery, Haucourt, France.
Amongst his Army records is the following letter from his mother (transcribed exactly as written, mistakes in spelling and grammar are Mrs Soole’s):
Oct 13th 1918
from a broken-hearted mother I am just writing to ask you if I could just ask you if you would forward me my dear boys disc and paybook or anything no matter what belonged to him. is name is 26051. Pte. S. W. Soole, D Company, 15 Platoon, 6 Lincolns, B.E.F. France.
Sorry I have not got anything belonging to him yet. will you just grant me the favour to send me anything no matter what.
I cannot write any more just now hoping you will grant me this favour as I am longing for something belonging to him he was nearly all I had. please will you return as possible and all particulars. My address is Mrs Sooles, Ranters Row, South End, Alford Linces, England.
The next document in the records is as follows:
The Officer i/c 3rd April 1919
No 26051, Pte Soole, S.W., 6th Bn. Lincolnshire Regiment
The attached enquiry regarding the effects of the above is passed to you.
The under mentioned have been received here and dealt with as stated:-
EFFECTS:- To you under Inventory No 4/689/12 (dated 29 Nov 1918) and receipt therefore is held.
CASH:- 5 Francs and 65 Centimes credited to deceased’s account through the Base Cashier.
PAY BOOK:- To No 4 Infantry Section here for transmission to Regimental Paymaster.
A disc was not included with the effects received here.
Kindly communicate with Mrs Soole and tell her that pay books being the property of the Government are never sent to relatives.
F R Smith
Staff Lieut. for D. A. G.
The inventory wasn’t included and it seems doubtful that Hephzibah received anything from the Army at this stage other than the 5 francs 65 centimes because the next entry in the file is a copy of a letter, dated 3 Jan 1920, which was sent to her with Stanley’s effects. These comprised just: Cigs in Tin French book Purse Cap badge Matchbox Metal ring.
Hopefully it gave Hephzibah some comfort to finally receive Stanley’s effects, but after waiting over a year it may have felt more like salt rubbed into the wound. In 1921 she was sent Stanley’s British War and Victory Medals and Memorial Plaque and Scroll, and there his Army record ends.