Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

In the early years of the 20th century the area around Drayton and Farlington was largely agricultural and wasn't even included within the Borough of Portsmouth until after the Great War. The family of Charles Henry Ackerman were very typical in that most of them worked on the land with occasional labouring jobs elsewhere.
The Ackerman family did not originate from the Portsmouth area, Charles Henry's father William (b. 1862) having been born in Broadwindsor, Dorset, where he met and married his wife Ellen (b. 1860). Their first two children George and Charles Henry were born in Dorset in 1887 and 1888 respectively but in 1889 they moved to No. 2 Cottage, Waterworks Lane, Farlington where William initially found a job as a railway labourer before becoming a shepherd.
In Farlington William and Ellen had five more children, only one of which was a daughter and for the 1901 census recorded that they had moved two doors along to No. 4 Cottage, Waterworks Lane. When he was old enough Charles Henry followed his father onto the land and became a farm carter. The agricultural community in Farlington was probably quite small at the time so it's not difficult to see how Charles Henry might meet Lily Elizabeth Newlyn who lived with her parents George and Fanny at 5 Wellington Terrace, Drayton. The two were married in 1910 and moved into the house next door to Lily's parents at 4 Wellington Terrace. Very soon afterwards, Lily gave birth to the couple's first child Francis Ellen.
Charles Henry may not have enlisted at the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914, partly because he was a married man with a growing family but also because he lived some way away from the centre of town where there may not have been so much social pressure to join up. When he did sign up he joined the Royal Engineers as a driver, serving with the 27th (Wessex) Divisional Signals Company which saw action in France from December 1914 until early 1916 when they were transferred to the campaign in Salonika. Although hostilities against Bulgaria ceased on 30th September 1918 the 27th Division continued to advance until ordered to halt at the beginning of November. Somewhere along that advance Charles Henry Ackerman fell ill or was wounded and was probably transferred to the 25th Casualty Clearing Station where he died.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Driver Charles Henry Ackerman (519643), Royal Engineers, died on 14/10/1918, aged 31. Buried at Doiran Military Cemetery, Greece (Grave Ref: V.G.9.). Husband of L. E. Ackerman, of 4, Wellington Terrace, Drayton, Cosham, Hants.
Charles Ackerman is remembered on the WW1 Memorial at St. Andrew's Church, Farlington but not on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
April 2014