b. 25/10/1891 London. d. 21/01/1971 Ivybridge, Devon.
Arthur Hugh Henry Batten-Pooll (1891-1971) was born at Rutland Lodge (now the Turkish Consulate), Rutland Gardens, Knightsbridge, London on 27th October 1891. His father’s original surname was Langford, but under terms of a will of his great-uncle, Henry Batten-Pooll, he assumed the surname Pooll by Royal Licence on 12th June 1871. Subsequently, he adopted the additional names Henry Batten and became Robert Pooll Henry Batten-Pooll. He was commissioned in the North Somerset Yeomanry on 20th January 1875 and resigned as Captain on 2nd June 1888. He was later Deputy Lieutenant Somerset from 1896, High Sheriff of Somerset and JP for Somerset and Wiltshire. Arthur’s mother was Sophia Frederica Christina Hastings nee MacRae, who was born in Lucknow, India. They had married in November 1879 at St Paul’s, Rothesay, Bute. Arthur had four siblings: Robert Duncan, Walter Stewart, John Alexander and Mary Margaret.
Arthur was educated at Eton and then pursued his interests in science and fox hunting. He was commissioned into the 3rd Somerset Light Infantry on 1st June 1911. He was promoted to Lieutenant in March 1913 and resigned from the Special Reserve on 4th July 1914. He was commissioned into 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers Special Reserve on 22nd September 1914 and was attached to 6th Reserve Regiment of Cavalry in Dublin. He transferred to 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers at Aghada from 22nd September 1914. He was promoted to Lieutenant and attached to 2nd Battalion in France from 9th February 1916. He was promoted to Captain after his VC action.
On 25th June 1916 near Colonne, France, Lieutenant Henry-Batten-Pooll was in command of a raiding party when, on entering the enemy’s lines he was severely wounded by a bomb which broke and mutilated all the fingers of his right hand. In spite of this he continued to direct operations with unflinching courage. Half an hour later during the withdrawal, while personally assisting in the rescue of other wounded men, he received two further wounds, but refusing assistance, he walked to within 100 yards of our lines when he fainted and was carried in by the covering party.
The VC was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 4th November 1916. He was then appointed Aide de Camp to Major General Richard Lee GOC, 4th Division from 4th March to 2nd August 1917. He was then awarded the Military Cross for his actions at Cherisy on 3rd May 1917 when he rallied the men when the advance was wavering. He kept the men together and led them forward to inflict heavy losses on the enemy.
Arthur returned to 2nd Battalion in August 1917 to command C Company. He was then taken prisoner at Passchendaele on 10th November and was transferred for internment in Switzerland on 27th December in a party of 84 officers and 854 other ranks. He was repatriated on 24th March 1918 and appointed Deputy Assistant Provost-Marshal on 14th November 1918 until May 1919. He then was appointed as liaision officer to 2/6th North Russian Rifles in the North Russian Expeditionary Force from July to October 1919.
Arthur attended Balliol College, Oxford from 1922-1925, obtaining a Diploma in Agriculture and Rural Economics. He travelled widely in pursuit of his scientific interest in flora and fauna as well as angling. His travels included Dalmatia in 1932, the Pacific Islands 1934, New Zealand 1934-1935, South America 1935, Persia 1936, Morocco 1939, Bulgaria 1938, Malaysia 1939-40 and Nigeria 1946-1947.
Arthur never married and died at his home, Ugborough House, near Ivybridge, Devon on 21st January 1971. He was buried in St Lawrence’s Parish Churchyard, Rode, Woolverton, Devon. He left £105,400 in his will. In addition to his VC and MC, he was also awarded the British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-1919 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. He bequeathed his medals to the National Army Museum where they are held. Sadly, his medals are not currently displayed.
LOCATION OF MEDAL:NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM, CHELSEA, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: ST LAWRENCE’S CHURCHYARD, WOOLVERTON, DEVON.
Kevin Brazier – Batten-Pooll VC’s Grave
Thomas Stewart – The Eton VC and GC Memorial Board