Wednesday, December 06, 2006
"It grieves me to have to tell you..."
A little over eighty eight years ago, Captain Magnus Rainier Robertson MC, Officer Commanding A Company of the 9th Essex Regiment, sat down to write a letter of condolence to the father of one of the men in his company. It wouln't have been the first such letter he wrote and it undoubtedly wouldn't have been the last. Nevertheless, nearly a century later, his words to Pte Pooley's father are still touching and I am grateful to the dead soldier's great nephew, Richard Pooley, for contacting me and for allowing me to use the letter on my website. This treasured family heirloom adds another tiny piece to the Chailey 1914-1918 jigsaw and I transcribe it here in full:
Dear Mr Pooley
It grieves me to have to tell you that your son was killed on the 4th inst (No 34091 Pte POOLEY J).
It will be some consolation to know that he suffered no pain, for he died instantaneously, being killed by a trench mortar shell. He had been my Coy Clerk for about 5 months and always did his work conscienciously and I shall feel his loss very much both from being fond of him and also for the work he did for me.
He will be buried reverently by a chaplain and I will let you know where he rests as soon as I can. I wish I could say anything to comfort you but I know your loss is too great. I am sending you his effects. In great sympathy
Yours sincerely, M R Robertson, Capt
O.C. A Coy, 9th Essex
Pte Pooley is buried in Mailley Wood Cemetery. A little over three months later, Captain Robertson was also killed in action.