Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Suprisingly there are relatively few recorded instances of a father and a son both serving in the Royal Navy during the Great War, but that is what happened to Michael Ahern snr. and his son Michael Harold Victor.
Michael snr. was born in Cork, Ireland in 1860 and probably joined the Royal Navy at an early age. The earliest reference to him or his family in the UK is from 1885 when he married a Portsmouth woman by the name of Esther. Within a year Esther gave birth to the couple's first child who was named Norah and in the following year another daughter, Victoria.
The 1891 census shows that Michael snr. was still absent at sea, and that the family seemed to have no permanent home as they were lodgers at the 'Sea Horses', 152 Queen Street. By this time Michael jnr. had also been born, though he's listed as Victor in the census. 1901 sees the first appearance of Michael snr., described in the census as a 'Blacksmith RN', the settling down to a family home at 16 North Street, Portsea and the arrival of another daughter, Dorothy (b. 1895).
The family had moved again by the 1911 census, this time to 28 Victoria Street, off Commercial Road. Michael snr. seems to have left the navy as he is just described as a Blacksmith, Norah has left the home, Victoria has married but is still at home with her daughter and Michael Harold Victor is a Storekeeper.
By the outbreak of the Great War Michael jnr. was already serving in the Royal Navy, and he was joined by his father who had himself served for 22 years before retiring. Michael snr. was posted to HMS Vernon which was then moored in Portsmouth Harbour where he was probably involved in training or research, whilst Michael jnr. joined HMS Queen Mary. Early in 1916 Michael Harold Victor married Emily Stubbs, but within a few weeks he lost his life at the Battle of Jutland when the Queen Mary was struck by two shells causing her magazines to explode, sinking the ship. Over 1200 members of the crew were lost.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Stoker 1st Class Michael Harold Victor Ahern (K/18122), Royal Navy, HMS Queen Mary, died on 31/05/1916. Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 17). Husband of Emily Eliza Ahern, of 94, Maitland St., Landport, Portsmouth.
Michael Ahern is remembered on the WW1 Memorial at St. John's RC Cathedral (spelt 'Ahearne') and on the Cenotaph. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X, p2.
The marriage record for Michael snr. and Esther has not been traced via Find My Past suggesting that they were married in Ireland, even though Esther was Portsmouth born. The date of 1885 for the marriage comes from the 1911 census which recorded the length of marriages.
Tim Backhouse
April 2014