JUST over 100 years ago, a young man in an extraordinary self-propelling electric wheelchair became a familiar sight in Pocklington.

His name was Alfred Boulton, a wounded veteran of the First World War. He'd come to live in Pocklington after the war with his wife Jean, the young nurse who had looked after him on his return to England and who he had subsequently married.

And, despite being told at one point that he'd never be able to leave his bed, he went on to become one of the town's leading citizens - a long-serving town councillor, secretary of the local branch of the British Legion, and founder-member of the Pocklington Old Comrades Association.

His grandson Paul is a Pocklington plumber to this day.

A couple of photographs from the peace celebrations staged in Pocklington in 1920 show him in his wheelchair. He was a lean young man with a thin, aquiline face - and he was wearing an extraordinary fancy dress costume which was half soldier's uniform and half nurse's uniform: his own unique way, no doubt, of saying thank you to his wife and the other nurses who cared for him on his return from the front.

His story is told in a couple of newspaper cuttings. One, dated September 28, 1940, has the headline: "Crippled soldier married his nurse in hospital".

It relates how, in 1920, the young soldier in his wheelchair had become well known in the town. "As the weeks went by one became used to seeing this young man riding through the town," the anonymous author of the piece wrote.

"Now the occupant of the chair is well known to everyone. His very cheerfulness is a tonic to us all."

Ten years later, there was another news article about him, this time headed: "'He'd never leave bed,' they said".

It described how, when war broke out, he had found himself serving with the 5th Highland Light Infantry.

By June, 1915, his unit was in the Dardanelles in north western Turkey. There, he was shot in the side. "Unaware of the seriousness of his wounds he found as he tried to turn that the bullet had pierced his spine and paralysed him from the waist downwards."

There followed two years in and out of hospital. At one point, his mother was told he would 'never get out of bed again'.

He proved that gloomy prediction wrong. In May 1919, having fallen in love with one of his nurses, Jean, he and his young wife moved to Pocklington, where he took part in the peace celebrations in his wheelchair. The rest, as they say, is history...

Alfred's story, along with that of countless other young men from Pocklington and the area around who went off to fight in the First World War, is told in a new book, 'Adieu to Dear Old Pock'. Painstakingly compiled by Andrew Sefton of the Pocklington and District Local History Group from service records, memorials, newspaper cuttings, letters home and family memories, and illustrated with a wealth of old photographs, the book stands as a fitting memorial, 100 years on, to all those from Pocklington who went to war.

From a town of about 3,000 people, 300 went off to fight in the war. Of those, 53 never returned. Others, like Alfred Boulton, were horribly injured.

'Adieu to Dear Old Pock' profiles every one of the young men whose name is on the Pocklington War Memorial. There is a shorter profile of all the 299 names in the church memorial book, plus mention of 86 local soldiers who either are not mentioned in that book, or who came from nearby villages.

As ever, reading their stories serves to underline the futility of that long ago war. There was young Frank Buttle, a joiner, who enlisted with the Kings Own Royal Rifles in November 1915 aged just 19. A year and a half later he died in a French clearing station from stomach wounds he got at the Somme. There was Sergeant Arthur Rowntree, son of a general labourer, who served with the Prince of Wales' Own West Yorkshire Regiment: he was killed in October 1918, less than three weeks before the end of the war. And there was Herbert Savage, a Pocklington police constable when war broke out who, because of his previous service with the Life Guards, was immediately called up to the cavalry unit again when war broke out. His unit was amongst the first to see action, at Mons in August 1914 - and he was killed a couple of months later, at Ypres, on November 2. He was 31 years old, and left behind him a grieving widow, Annie, and a young child.

Pocklington, at the time the war broke out, was a recruitment centre with a long-standing tradition of being a muster point for troops.

Several photographs in 'Adieu to dear Old Pock' show musters in the town's Market p,lace. There's an air almost of festivity about them.

The reality of the war was to be anything but festive. As Mr Sefton writes in his introduction: "For Pocklington to see 300 men go off to fight in a war and to lose 53 out of those that were sent, shows the great sacrifice the town made."

It does indeed. Adieu to Dear Old Pock stands as a moving testament to that sacrifice.

Adieu to dear Old Pock, edited by Andrew Sefton, is published by Pocklington and District Local History Group and Pocklintion Town Council, priced £12. It is available from the York Army Museum, Tower Street, York; W & C Forth, 13 Waterloo Lane, Pocklington; Readwell & Wright, 69 Market Place, Pocklington; Burnby Hall Bookshop, Burnby Hall Gardens; and Horsley & Dawson, 72-73 Middle Street South, Driffield