Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

It may have been the Portsmouth Tramway system that brought the Bruce family to Portsmouth as the first mention of them is in the census for 1901 when Alfred's father, also known as Alfred is recorded as a Tramways Conductor living at 129 Drayton Road, North End.
Alfred snr. had been born in Bromley by Bow but there is no positive sight of him in the censuses until 1901 by which time he had married Emma Sarah Ann Harper at Fareham in 1898 and their son Alfred jnr. had been born. Emma had been born in Paulsgrove which may offer an alternative reason for Alfred moving to Portsmouth. The 1911 Census shows Alfred snr. improving his position at the Passenger Transport Department by becoming an Inspector and records a second child, Emma Sarah Ann (b. 1904).
At the outbreak of the Great War Alfred jnr. was only 14 years old and after leaving school he obtained a job in the Car Shed at the Passenger Transport Department, presumbly with his father's help. It was not until March 1918 that he enlisted in the Dorsetshire Regiment and by August that year he was on his way to the Western Front. His unit was soon pitched into heavy fighting and with the armistice only a month away Alfred Bruce died of wounds received in action.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Private AWG Bruce, (20997), 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment, died on 04/10/1918. Buried in the Tincourt New British Cemetery (Grave Ref: VI.F.29.). Son of Mr. A. and Mrs. E. S. A. Bruce, of 31, Burleigh Rd., Copnor, Portsmouth.
Alfred Bruce is remembered on the Buckland United Reformed Church WW1 Memorial, 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, p271, which gave his family address as 85 Portchester Road, North End.
Tim Backhouse
March 2014