220px-New_Army_Terms_of_Enlistment_poster_Aug_1914_IWMBy the outbreak of the First World War the old Poor House had been an old peoples home for some 32 years. However, this did not put off the older residents doing their part for the war effort.

One resident in particular, Walter F. Element, was keen to help out the military in whatever capacity he could. Walter was a retired soldier himself, and in September 1914 he made his way in Belfast to enlist in Kitchener’s Army. Obviously, a man of his age was not going to be sent to the front, but he did have an important role to play. Walter was employed by the military to train the new recruits who had volunteered since the outbreak of the war in July 1914.

Mr. Element was provided with accommodation at the training camp, but at a board meeting following his enlistment the Belfast Charitable Society agreed to hold his place for him should he wish to return. The minutes record that “…the Committee honour his conduct of one who wishes to help his country”.