During the First World War, Poperinge was situated a few kilometres behind the turmoil of battle on the Ypres Salient. The British army commandeered the quiet little town to accommodate the throbbing heartbeat of its war machine. Very quickly, Poperinge became a 24-hour-a-day metropolis; in 1917 approximately 250,000 men were billeted in the area...
On the 11th December, 1915, in the centre of this lively metropolis, Chaplain Philip Clayton opened a "soldiers' house". The large home of the Coevoet family was transformed into "Every Man's Club", where all soldiers were welcome, regardless of rank.
On the suggestion of Colonel Reginald May, and despite the protest of the senior army chaplain Neville Talbot, the House was named 'Talbot House'. The name commemorates Gilbert Talbot, Neville's younger brother, who was killed in action on the 30th July, 1915. Gilbert became the symbol of the sacrifice of a 'golden generation' of young men.
For three years, the 'Tommy' found in Talbot House an alternative for the 'debauched' recreational life of the town. The initials of Talbot House became Toc H in the WWI phonetic alphabet. For hundreds of thousands, this site became 'a home from home', where they found a little bit of humanity, rest and peace.
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