Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Henry Irving Barrell was born in 1890 to James (b. 1853) and Alice Matilda (b. 1858) Barrell. He had five older siblings and two younger brothers. He lived for most of his life at 25 Cumberland Street, Portsea. His father James was described as a joiner in HM Dockyard in the 1891 and 1911 Censuses and as a French Polisher at HMD in 1901. As the dockyard wall loomed over one end of Cumberland Street we can assume that it was an ever present influence over the young Henry.

In 1902, at the age of 12 years, Henry began attending the Higher Grade School at the north end of Fawcett Road and Victoria Road North, on the site currently occupied by Priory School. He remained at the school for four years during which time he was described as one of the best of its scholars. Early promise was fulfilled when after reaching Honours in the First Class College of Preceptors' Examination he succeeded in obtaining the Board of Education's Teacher's Certificate, passing each of the necessary examinations with a number of distinctions. At Westminster Training College which he entered in 1908, he secured a place in the Football Team and was prominent in other forms of physical exercise, including swimming.
Towards the end of 1915 he set aside his work as a Master in the Portsmouth Town School to join the 2/6th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment. A few months later he was transferred to the 1/6th Battalion which he joined in India and was subsequently for a time stationed at Ambala. In September, 1917, they went to Mesopotamia, and here Corporal Barrell was wounded whilst engaged in active operations. Three months later he contracted enteric fever and lay seriously ill for some months in Baghdad Hospital. When convalescent he returned to Bombay where he acted as Non-commissioned Officer in Charge of Casualties at the Hospital until he left for England in January, 1919. Landing at Marseilles in the middle of February he found the change of climate very trying. From this place the journey was resumed on February 24th, but two days later he had to be admitted to the 6th Canadian Hospital at Joinville-le-Pont, suffering from influenza and lung complications. He died on March 5th, three years after leaving England, and was buried in the local cemetery with military honours.
Further Information
The photograph above is taken from a memorial booklet published by Southern Grammar School from which extracts also appear above. In the 1891 Census, James Barrell is listed as James Barrow, as are all the rest of the family except Henry's older brother Lorenzo who was recorded as Barrel. No trace of the family before that census has yet been found.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website lists Lance Corporal Henry Irving Barrell (281458), 1st/6th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, date of death, 05/03/1919, aged 29. He is buried at Joinville-le-Pont Communal Cemetery, Val de Marne. Henry's grave is one of only 10 WW1 graves at this cemetery
Henry Barrell's name has survived on the Southern Grammar School WW1 Memorial but his name does not appear on the Cenotaph.
Tim Backhouse
November 2013