The wartime soldiers who called Portsmouth home

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Continuing on from yesterday’s article about the First World War, although Portsmouth was a naval town many losses also occurred in the army.

Not everyone can be mentioned, of course.

What follows is a brief record of the town, as it was then, and the streets and roads which lost so many men.

With the ‘Britain Needs You’ campaign led by Lord Kitchener, it was the army who had the recruiting offices open day and night to gather men with a conscience off the streets.

Many of these were young and single, but there were many other men who had served their country in the Victorian era and remained in the service well past their time.

It is recorded that Commissioned Gunner WG Worsh, who lived at 4, Walden Road, Stamshaw, had joined the Royal Navy in 1893 and was still serving in 1920.

Petty Officer Stoker 1st Class SA Yeatman had joined the navy in 1895 and had served all over the world, including China and Australia.

During the Battle of Jutland on May 31, 1916 he was serving in HMS Invincible when she was sunk and he lost his life.

He was 40 and his address was 48, Sea View, Landport.

Another seaman from the same district was Petty Officer 1st Class Edward Charles Rumbold. When he was also killed at Jutland he had served 21 years.

He had lived at 25, Woodland Street, Landport.

Perhaps the longest-serving man of the period was Master-At-Arms JA Batchelor who, like Yeatman, had joined the navy in 1895 but a few months earlier.

Batchelor, who lived at 35, St Pirans Avenue, Copnor, lived through the campaign and was released in April 1920 after 27 years’ service.

William and Margaret Burrows, of 63, Union Street, Portsea, sent four sons off to war and lost one, Stoker Daniel Burrows.

He died when his ship HMS Amethyst was hit from the gunnery of Turkish forts in the Dardanelles.

Daniel was one of 22 men who died that morning, another four dying of injuries later in the day.

Daniel’s brothers, John and Frank, who were both petty officers in the navy and another John in the RAF, all managed to make it through.

One of the saddest stories must be that of the Dennis family.

They lived at 53, Amelia Street, Landport and John and Sarah had four sons, all serving in the army.

By the end of the war three had been taken and the remaining son was so ill he was returned home medically unfit.

On August 28, 1916, Sergeant John Dennis, aged 24, was serving with the 2nd Rifle Brigade when he was killed on the Somme.

John had fought at the Battle of the Marne, Aisne Ridge and Ypres and had been wounded twice.

On August 15, 1917 A/Corporal Arthur Dennis, aged 22, of the 2nd & 15th Hampshire Regiments, was killed in action in Belgium on the battlefields of Ypres.

Arthur had served at Gallipoli and after the evacuation of the Peninsula he saw action on the Somme.

Two years to the day of his brother John being killed, Private James Dennis, aged 19, of the 1st Dorsetshire Regiment,was killed in the final advance of the Somme on August 28, 1918.

Aged 19, he had been in the army just 13 months.

The one son who returned home unwell was William Dennis, who served with the Royal Army Medical Corps.

He had seen action at the Marne, Ypres, the Somme and Arras. Medically unfit and a veteran of so much action, he was just 21 years old at the time of his release.

I wonder how he coped after losing three brothers who had been very much part of his life just three years earlier?

Another family that sent sons to war were the Hartnells, who lived at 6, Town Street, Portsea.

One son had been in the Royal Field Artillery since 1908 and when the call came his three brothers all volunteered.

Two of them died in battle.

Gunner Frank Charles Hartnell, of the Royal Marine Artillery, died not through action but influenza on March 12, 1919. He had served since 1916.

His brother, Private George Hartnell of the Machine Gun Corps, joined the army in 1914 at the outbreak of war and had seen action at the Battles of Neuve, Chapelle, Ypres, Vimy Ridge and the Somme. After all that he fell in action on September 25, 1916.

Private Albert Hartnell, of the 2nd & 15th Hampshire regiments, took part in the battles of Somme, Ypres, Arras and Cambai.

He was wounded four times in action on the Western Front. He returned home in 1919.

The brother, who had enlisted in 1908, served in places that would have been unknown to people in the town of Portsmouth at the time.

RW Hartnell of the RFA was sent to Mesopotamia and saw action with his battery at Um-el-Hannah, Kut, Ramadieh and Mosul.

In 1920 he was still serving.

I’ll continue with First World War stories in Remember When on Wednesday next week.