The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 1 No 4 - June 1969

Tribute to late Major-General W. H. Evered Poole, CB, CBE, DSO


Ex-servicemen throughout the Republic and in particular those who served with 2nd S.A. Infantry Brigade in the Western Desert and later 6th S.A. Armoured Division in Italy, recently mourned the death of one of South Africa's most distinguished soliders -- Major-General W. H. Evered Poole, CB, CBE, DS0, who died on Sunday, 9th March at the age of 66 years after a long spell of illness.

First photo

The late Major-General W. H. Evered Poole, CB, CBE, DSO

I first came to know Evered Poole towards the end of 1922 when I was serving on the staff of the S.A. Military College as Adjutant and Officer Instructor. He had been accepted as a Cadet for the first Cadet Course to qualify as officers for the Permanent Force. What impressed me was his strong personality, keenness and determination. A year later he gained first place in passing out and was appointed to commissioned rank and posted to the S.A. Field Artillery.

I was to remain on the staff of the College for another eleven years to become head of the Institution as its Commandant, and during that period Evered Poole was ever knocking at the door to attend one qualifying course after another. His search after knowledge was insatiable. I marked him down as one of our future military leaders and field commanders.

Early in 1933 the well-known Special Service Battalion (known as S.S.B.) was formed and I became founder Commanding Officer, retaining the appointment of Commandant of the College. When I left on transfer at the end of that year to take over the Cape Command Evered Poole took over as second-in-command of the Battalion and a few months later as Commanding Oflicer of the unit which was to become probably the best known unit in the Defence Force at that time.

During 1935 he was attached to the Brigade of Guards for four months and attended a Senior Officers Course at Sheerness in England. He was highly thought of and recommended for advancement.

His next senior appointment was Commandant of the Military College during 1938. was Director of Military Organization and Training at that time and was again able to assess his military qualities and ability to command. Towards the end of 1940, when I was appointed General Officer Commanding the 1st S.A. Division which was earmarked for service in East Africa and Abyssinia, I selected him as my GSO - 1 (Senior Operational Staff Officer). Much to my regret I was obliged to surrender him to 2nd S.A. Division, but early in 1942 I managed to secure his appointment as Officer Commanding 2nd S.A. Infantry Brigade which formed part of 1st S.A. Division and was on the way from East Africa to the Middle East. He proved himself in a short time and I was satisfied that we had found a commander who would be capable of filling the gap in a more senior command.

When the 6th S.A. Armoured Division was being formed General Smuts discussed the appointment of its commander with me and I was able to recommend, without hesitation or reservation, that Evered Poole should receive the appointment.

It was a most important command. Evered Poole met the challenge with courage and great determination. The achievements of the 6th S.A. Armoured Division are well known. Its commander made a name for himself and the Division ... its record is indeed one of which South Africans can be proud.

On return to the Union early in 1946 he was appointed Deputy Chief of the General Staff and was earmarked as General Sir Pierre van Ryneveld's successor as Chief of the General Staff.

To the utter dismay of those of us who had built up the S.A. Defence Force and looked forward to seeing the younger leaders take over and continue the work of reconstruction the then Minister of Defence relieved General Poole of his post and he was sent to Berlin as head of the South African Military Mission. So terminated the military career of a gallant and distinguished soldier who had proved himself as a leader and military administrator. From 1948 to 1960 he rendered fine service to his country in the Diplomatic field in important overseas appointments.

Another distinguished South African soldier has passed on.

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