Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

With a father who had spent around 25 years in the navy it would not have been surprising if Herbert W. had followed him to sea. As it happened events probably overtook him and even if he had wanted to join the navy the option was probably not open to him. Instead he followed the rush to join the army that occurred in the first few months after the opening of hostilities.
Herbert's father James Ainsworth (b. 1854) must have joined the navy soon after his 17th birthday and for the next two censuses was listed as being aboard one of Her Majesty's warships - HMS Achilles in 1871 and HMS Triumph in 1881. By the time of the latter however he had met and married his wife Sarah (b. 1858) who for the 1891 census was living at 40 Hale Street with the couples first three children, Sarah, James and Richard. James snr. has not been definitely located for that census.
By 1901 James had left the navy and was working as a labourer in the Dockyard. The family were then living at 9 Northam Street and a third son, Herbert W. had been born in 1893. James's wife Sarah died in 1908 and by 1911 he, Richard and Herbert were living in the household of his brother-in-law, Edmund Gibbins, at 162 Westfield Road, Eastney. The census that year described Herbert as a van salesman but this job could not have lasted long as he soon found work as a conductor for the Portsmouth Passenger Transport Department.
Herbert did not volunteer to join the army in the first wave of enthusiasm after the outbreak of war, but did so later, enlisting in November 1914. He experienced several months of training before March 1916 when the Battalion was sent to France. He saw service at the Somme, at Ypres and the Retreat. He was granted leave to return to England in 1917 when he married Annie Frampton but shortly after returned to France where he lost his life in March 1918.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Private HW Ainsworth, (20997), 14th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, died on 25/03/1918. Buried in the St. Pierre Cemetery, Amiens (Grave Ref: VIII.F.1.). Husband of A. Ainsworth, of 49, Seagrove Rd., North End, Portsmouth.
Herbert Ainsworth is remembered on the City of Portsmouth Passenger Transport Department WW1 Memorial, and the Cenotaph in Portsmouth. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X, p259.
Tim Backhouse
March 2014