MANY romances fell by the wayside when men enlisted for war, but Nellie Jones was determined to keep hers going when her sweetheart Harry Poole, right, joined the Army Veterinary Corps.
Nellie sent him picture postcards which came with rhyming messages that were lighthearted - but still serious enough to get the point across.
'It seems a thousand years ago, the day you went away. I'm lonesome and I'd like to know, how long you're going to stay,' was the message on one of the first cards she sent Harry in March 1916 when he was stationed at the Army Veterinary Hospital at Round Green, Luton.
The following month another followed in similar vein: 'I'm truly glad that you have had this chance to be a rover. A trip is nice, but I'll be twice as glad when it's over.'
Harry's work involved looking after army horses and he was moved to bases all over southern England including Pitt Corner Camp at Winchester, the veterinary hospital at Bulford, Wiltshire, and the Remount Depot at Shirehampton, near Bristol. This is where 'war horses' that were shipped to Avonmouth from abroad recovered before being put to work.
As the months passed by Nellie appears to have grown used to separation although she still sent Harry the odd nudge if letters became infrequent: 'Here's a picture of a penny I will very gladly lend, if you'll promise to invest it in a postcard for your friend.'
And by the end of 1916 it was Nellie who was doing the apologising:'Oh, what's the use of an excuse, to send along to you! I owe a letter, I should do better, and send it when it's due!'Harry remained at Shirehampton until demobilisation in1919 and then went to work in Staffordshire as a gamekeeper for Sir Geoffrey Congreve. He and Nellie were finally married in 1923.
CAN YOU HELP?
The postcards have been passed down to the couple's grandaughter, Helen Frost, who also has some lovely informal photographs of Harry's friends in the Army Veterinary Corps, like the picture on the left.
However, she is puzzled by one piece of information which has recently come to light, that at some point in his career Harry was invalided out of 'the Blues' (the Royal Horse Guards) under a 'Sergeant Norman'. It's a shot in the dark, but if anyone knows how Helen could shed more light on Harry Poole's service in the Guards, do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll put you in touch.