Portsmouth streets which gave so many men to the colours

HMS Queen Mary lost at the Battle of Jutlandon  May 31, 191, taking 1,266 British sailors down with her. 'I wonder how many Portsmouth men are lining her deck?
HMS Queen Mary lost at the Battle of Jutlandon May 31, 191, taking 1,266 British sailors down with her. 'I wonder how many Portsmouth men are lining her deck?
The Rampant at the ramparts of Portchester Castle in 1967. L to r: Peter Richardson (aka Ritchie Peters  they turned his name around) vocals, Ron Hughes guitar, Ken Hughes (his brother) drums, Don Golding bass, Mick Cooper Hammond organ.

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We must remember that Portsmouth, although being a naval town was also a garrison at the time of the First World War and therefore the ‘Keys to the Town’ were in the army’s keeping.

Many men joined the army, especially the Hampshire Regiment, although, of course, they were scattered among many other regiments too.

8, Walmer Road, Fratton, where CPO Fraser lived with his son who  sered in the RAF

8, Walmer Road, Fratton, where CPO Fraser lived with his son who sered in the RAF

The Emis family were one proud family with sons fighting for our freedom from 1914 to 1918.

Private Edward Emis lived with his parents William and Annie at 9, Forton Road, Kingston.

He enlisted in the army in 1913 aged 19 and joined the South Staffordshire Regiment and a month after the outbreak of war he was drafted to France.

He was soon in the thick of it and fought at Mons, the battles of the Marne, Aisne, La Basee and Ypres.

On Boxing Day 1914, just five months into the war, Edward was killed in action aged 20.

Two of his brothers, for whom I only have initials, served in the Royal Field Artillery and the Hampshire Regiment.

They returned home and there must have been much sadness in that Forton Road home when they learned of their brother’s death.

It seems odd that nearly all the names in the Roll of Honour appear to have lived in what might have been called at the time the less well-off areas of Portsmouth.

Rarely do the neighbourhoods of Hilsea, Copnor, Baffins, or Eastney show up as losing family.

They do appear from time to time but nowhere near as often as Portsea, Landport, Buckland or Fratton.

Admittedly, the eastern side of Portsea Island was not as densely populated as the western half, but there were residential areas on that eastern side that were well-populated.

So let us try and find some of the streets where so much sadness occurred over the four years of war.

Many of the streets and roads have long gone thanks to the blitz of the Second World War and the redevelopment of the city.

Most have been modernised to a point where the servicemen who once lived in them would now find them the epitome of luxury. Inside toilets and central heating were two generations away.

Two well known roads in Fratton that must have known sadness and joy within the properties are Walmer Road and Byerley Road.

The two roads run into each other – the first as far as Proctor Lane where it then continues as Byerley Road. This ends in a cul-de-sac at St Mary’s recreation ground.

In all I found 70 addresses where families had men serving in the army or navy. No doubt there were a few more not recorded.

Unfortunately it is difficult to find Christians names of those who survived the conflict and we have just their initials.

At number eight Walmer Road lived the Fraser family where a father and son both served.

Chief Petty Officer J Fraser had joined the navy in 1898. He survived the war and was still serving in 1920.

His son Air Mechanic J Fraser joined the colours in 1917 and served in the RAF until 1920 when he was demobilised.

Taking lodgings at the house was Gunner HM Dearman, who was also in the RAF and who was wounded and invalided out in 1917.

Petty Officer stoker Charles Henry Ford had joined the Royal Navy in 1906. He was serving in HMS Queen Mary at the Battle of Jutland when she blew up. Charles lies with 1,265 of his shipmates at the bottom of the North Sea. There were 18 survivors.

In the record it tells us he lived at 66, Walmer Road but in another that he resided at 16, Ventnor Road, Southsea, with his wife Katie Louisa Ford.

I can only assume the family placed his former home address and where he grew up in the Roll of Honour. He was aged 29.