Edward Pool: Wounded hero of D-Day who went on to marry the sculptor Elisabeth Frink

He believed he owed his life to a cotton wallet that slowed down a fragment of shrapnel

Edward Pool had the misfortune to lose his foot soon after D-Day, and his heart in the 1960s to the sculptor Elisabeth Frink. The crucial role he played in the first hours of the Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944 won him the Military Cross; Frink was to sculpt him as the Risen Christ. “Lt Pool's personal example, cheerfulness and bravery were an inspiration to all who served under him”, the citation for his MC says. He was likewise to prove in civilian life a rock for the whimsical artist, until she left him.

Pool parachuted in over Ranville, near Caen, at 00.30 hours on 6 June; and until the following evening, in command of 5 platoon, B Company, the 7th (Light Infantry) Parachute Battalion, preserved the eastern flank of the Allies' bridgehead from the German 716th Infantry Division and elements of the 21st Panzer Division attacking the hamlet of Le Port.

“Lt Pool's platoon were required to hold an outpost on the Western Bridgehead held by the Airborne troops over the Caen canal at Benouville,” the citation records. “He held this outpost for 21 hours on 6 June 1944 during which time he was almost continuously attacked by superior forces… In addition, he led numerous offensive patrols which played a material part in the successful action.”

The battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Richard Geoffrey “Wooden Box” Pine-Coffin, took over the defence of the two bridges, Pegasus and Horsa, over the Caen Canal and the Orne river respectively, from Major John Howard's glider force – the very first troops to land, who had been charged to “hold until relieved”.

Seven Para was itself to be relieved only after delays, as the amphibious forces came up from the beaches. Pool and his platoon, on their outpost, had to hold out until 21.15 hours.

During the next 12 days, from positions east of the Orne, Pool took several German gun emplacements, one single-handed. But on 18 June, as he rushed a machine gun, he was caught by fire from a multi-barrelled mortar. It tore off his left foot and damaged his left leg and hip, leaving 14 pieces of shrapnel in him and deafening him in one ear. He believed he owed his life to the cotton wallet sewn into his battledress trousers by his right hip: “[It] slowed down a fragment of shrapnel which was on its way to go through me, but... only penetrated half-way.”

As an officer he was forbidden to shout “help” for fear of alerting the enemy, but a sergeant found him bleeding. The wound ended his war. His tenacity, courage, and taste for magnificent objects, stayed with him. He took up motor racing, and by 1946 was driving a Type 35 Bugatti, competing in this and in a Lea-Francis TT Hyper. Racing until the mid-'50s, he was elected a life member of the British Racing Drivers' Club.

Pool's prosperity derived from his family's meat business, Edward E. Pool & Co, at Smithfield, of which he was a director. So did the nickname – “the Butcher” – that the gilded Bohemian circle around the rising artist Lis Frink dubbed him with, though Pool had concentrated on the enterprise only after giving up an early effort at farming in Suffolk.

The tall, broad-shouldered, brown-bearded Pool, who met Frink at the house of a mutual friend in Kensington, became the inspiration for her warrior sculptures, such as the series Soldier's Head. Frink's biographer Stephen Gardiner wrote: “1961 was one of her most productive years, and for that perhaps her love affair with Ted gets some credit.”

Pool, who was living alone in a flat on the Fulham Road, became Frink's secret obsession, kept hidden from her then husband, Michel Jammet, with whom she had a young son. A domestic idyll, and a first marriage that had produced two children, had by then vanished for Pool. Frink broke up her own marriage and the couple wed at Wandsworth Register Office in 1964, moving to a house he bought in Putney. This was the year the Risen Christ, a bearded, laurel-crowned, standing figure bearing the Five Wounds of the Passion, and with a fine right leg but an awkward-looking left one, was installed at the new RC Church of Our Lady of the Wayside at Solihull.

Two years later, the couple moved to Corbès near Nîmes. Pool helped to make Frink's sculptures – drilling holes, cutting metal, and suggesting how a piece might be supported – and organised her correspondence and business affairs. He ran the household, helping to bring up her son, Lin, and built the kitchen at their stone home, a complex made for 19th-century silk-industry workers called Le Village.

Pool sold the London meat business, though he remained a consultant to it, and as well as putting his money into Le Village, bought and ran a vineyard at Sebens, south of Corbès.

Yet it was through his sense of duty that the knell was sounded. For the sake of his own two children, whom he sought to make financially secure, he called in an insurance man, recommended by a wartime military colleague. The professional caller at Le Village was, alas for Pool, to be Frink's next lover, then husband. She kept the truth from Pool for two years. Alexander Csaky, a Hungarian count, horseman and hunter, entertained her in London when she visited for her exhibitions, while her husband maintained Le Village.

Pool discovered the affair only when he came to London to view a retrospective show of hers in October 1972. In his distress he had a fall, and snapped the Achilles tendon of his remaining foot, though the injury delayed for only a few weeks Frink's leaving him, in 1973. He stayed in France, selling the vineyard in 1978, and, after Frink sold her studio at Le Village, he lived at Gard, Sauve and Alzon before returning to England. He was to find happiness with Christabel Briggs, a director of Cork Street's Piccadilly Gallery.

Pool was educated at Cheltenham College. He volunteered at 17 as a private in the Middlesex Regiment, before being commissioned into the Royal Irish Fusiliers and joining the Parachute Regiment in 1943. After the war, he instructed Parachute Regiment recruits at Hardwick Hall until it closed, then commanded HQ Company at Aldershot, retiring in 1953. He stayed in the Territorial Army until 1955, leaving with the rank of Honorary Captain.

Edward Gordon Pool, soldier and cultivator: born London 18 December 1922; MC 1944; married three times (one son, one daughter); died London 1 January 2013.

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile App/IOS Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC)

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Mobile App/IOS...

Front End Developer-JavaScript, Angular J.S, HTML, CSS, ASP.NET

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front End Deve...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil