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William Henry Evered Poole
General Poole with Field Marshal Jan Smuts: 24 June 1944
Nickname Evered
Born (1902-10-08)October 8, 1902
Died March 9, 1969(1969-03-09) (aged 66)
Place of birth Caledon, Cape Colony
Place of death Bellville, Cape Province
Allegiance  Union of South Africa
Service/branch Army
Years of service 1920–1948
Rank Major General
Commands held Deputy Chief of the General Staff
6th SA Armoured Division
2nd SA Infantry Brigade
Commandant of the SA Military College
Special Service Battalion
Battles/wars El Alamein
Monte Cassino
Awards CB, CBE, DSO
Commander of the US Legion of Merit
Commander of the French Légion d'honneur
Croix de Guerre avec Palme
Mentioned in Despatches
Other work Diplomat

Major General William Henry Evered Poole, CB, CBE, DSO, Commander of the US Legion of Merit, Commander of the French Légion d'honneur, Croix de Guerre avec Palme, Mentioned in Despatches, was a South African soldier before and during World War II and afterwards a diplomat.

Early life

In October 1901, Major William John Evered Poole, previously of the 60th King's Royal Rifle Corps[1] married Miss Constance van Breda, a member of one of the best-known Cape Colony families. William Henry Evered Poole was born in Caledon, Cape Colony on 8 October 1902. As the first-born son, he was given Evered as his last name in accordance with age-old Poole tradition.

He attended an Anglican, private, boys' school, St Andrew's College in Grahamstown from 1911–1917 and the Diocesan College, informally known as “Bishops”, Rondebosch in 1918.[1]

Military service prior to World War II

In 1920, while a public servant, he joined the 9th Infantry Regiment (Cape Peninsula Rifles)[2] of the Active Citizen Force as a private.

He joined the Permanent Force in 1922. He was placed first on the course for promotion to commissioned rank on 11 September 1923. He was next posted as a lieutenant to the 3rd Battery SA Field Artillery and transferred to the SA Permanent Garrison Artillery at Cape Town in March 1925, when he again qualified in the first place on a garrison gunnery course. In 1927, he attended a staff duties course at the SA Military College at Roberts Heights and was attached to the SA Staff Corps at the college in 1929, again passing out in the first place on a staff duties course of the PF in 1931. Appointed officer instructor to the Transvaal Horse Artillery for 1931-32, he qualified as a captain in the SA Field Artillery at the end of 1931. In June 1932, he was granted the temporary rank of captain as staff officer, 'A' and 'G', in Cape Town and transferred to the staff corps.

He was subsequently posted to the Special Service Battalion as second-in-command with the rank of major. He became the Officer Commanding of SSB in February 1934.

In June 1935, he was granted the temporary rank of lieutenant colonel and was attached to the British Brigade of Guards at Aldershot, in London, and at Pirbright until September 1935. For the rest of the year, he attended the Senior Officers' School at Sheerness. He returned to South Africa to resume command of the SSB in 1936.

In October 1937, he was transferred to the SA Military College[3] and became Commandant of the college on 16 March 1938. Following the Union's entry into the War in September 1939, he organised the greatly expanded facilities at the College, including the huge 'B' Mess dining halls seating 500 officer cadets.[4]

World War II

He was appointed GSO1 of 1st SA Division, with the rank of colonel, on its formation in August 1940, but when the 2nd SA Division was formed he became its GSO1 on 1 October 1940.

In April 1941, he was promoted to the temporary rank of brigadier. In June 1941, he was transferred back to the 1st SA Division as brigadier to take command of the 2nd Infantry Brigade in Egypt. He saw active service with the Brigade at Mersa Matruh, commanding 'Braforce' under the 2nd SA Division on the Egyptian frontier later in 1941, and then with the 1st SA Division on the Gazala Line from February–May 1942. He returned temporarily to South Africa as officer commanding Cape Fortress until rejoining his brigade at El Alamein in August 1942. There he commanded the brigade in the final battle of Alamein in October–November 1942. He returned to South Africa as second-in-command of the 1st SA Division.

He took command, with the rank of major-general, of the 6th Armoured Division on its formation in February 1943. He retained command throughout its training in the Middle East and subsequent service in Italy as part of the British 8th Army. After the liberation of Florence the division became part of the 5th US Army. At the end of the war, he became General Officer Administration of all South African troops in the Allied Central Mediterranean Force until their repatriation on 2 March 1946.

Post World War II service and Honours

In 1948, he was passed over as Chief of Staff by the newly elected National Party government of Dr DF Malan and posted to Berlin to head the South African military mission there. After this he switched to a diplomatic career. He was subsequently appointed envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Italy, Greece and Egypt, and in 1954 was transferred to Argentina and Chile. In 1960, he became ambassador to Greece.[5]

In 1927, he married Elsie Irene van Boeschoten and had one daughter. After the dissolution of the marriage in 1951, he married Maureen Naish-Gray on 22 October 1951. He was twice mentioned in dispatches, received the Distinguished Service Order, and was appointed a Companion in The Most Honourable Order of the Bath and a Commander in the Order of the British Empire. He was among the very few South Africans to become a Commander of the US Legion of Merit, and was also a Commander of the French Légion d'honneur and received the Croix de Guerre avec Palme.

He was a Knight of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. Whilst ambassador to Greece, he was decorated with the Order of King George I in 1964. St Andrew's College, Grahamstown, annually award the The General Evered Poole Cadet Cup to the winning house in the inter-house cadet competition.[6]

In his last years, he suffered from a lung ailment which forced his retirement in 1966. In retirement, he spent half the year at his home in Hermanus, Cape Province, and the other half in Greece, aboard the Poole's yacht Estrellita. He died on 9 March 1969.

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  1. Beyers C.J., Dictionary of South African Biography, Volume V, Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, 1987
  2. Dovey, John. "Cape Peninsula Rifles". South African Military Units. 
  3. Gomm, Neville (June 1972). "The South African Army College". SA. 
  4. Theunissen, AB (June 1994). "Major-General WH Evered Poole CB CBE DSO: 1902-1969 Personal Retrospects". SA. 
  5. Bunting, Brian (December 1986). The Rise of the South African Reich. Mayibuye Books. ISBN 0-904759-74-1. 
  6. Old Andrean Newsletter

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