Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records describe John William as a 'native of Portsmouth' which for someone born in Donegal who stayed in the Borough for a very short time, is something of an exaggeration.
It's not known how long John lived in Portsmouth as the only documentary evidence of him being in the Town comes from the 1911 census which records him living at 110 Malins Road, Buckland in the household of his uncle and aunt William and Ann Goring. His age is given as 16 which would give a birth year as 1895 but information from his navy record suggests that his birthdate was 25th Septemebr 1897. There is no sign of his parents John and Ellen in the census.
That census also describes John as working as a labourer which didn't leave him long to enlist in the Royal Navy before the outbreak of the Great War. It is of course possible that his sole purpose of being in Portsmouth was to join the navy and the census caught him before he was accepted.
Nothing is known of his service in the navy other than that he was serving on board HMS Bulwark in November 1914 when it was moored near Sheerness in the River Medway. At 7.50am on the 26th of that month Bulwark was ripped apart by a mighty explosion killing all but 14 members of the crew. John's body was not recovered.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Ordinary Seaman Thorne William John Baggett (SS/4960), Royal Navy, HMS Bulwark, died 26/11/1914, aged 19. Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 3). Son of John Baggett, R.N., and the late Ellen May Baggett. Native of Portsmouth.
John Baggett is also commemorated on the Buckland United Reformed Church WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
The CWGC give his name as Thorne William John Baggett when in the census of 1911 it is recorded as John William Thorne. They also record it as Baggett TWJ on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial whereas the Buckland United Reformed Church WW1 Memorial lists John William Thorne. The Cenotaph prefers Baggett TW.
Tim Backhouse
November 2014