Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The 1913 edition of Kelly's Directory lists John Cooper Burt as living at 133 St. Augustine Road. It is the only direct reference to his presence in Portsmouth after 1891 as he served in the Royal Navy and was at sea during the two subsequent census returns.
Littlehampton was the home of John Cooper Burt from his birth towards the end of 1868 and his departure for the Royal Navy in the 1880s. His father Richard Burt was a merchant mariner who married Jane Cooper at Worthing in 1868. The couple had initially lived in the household of Jane's parents in Littlehampton where John Cooper and his sister Mary Jane were born, but Jane and the children seem to have joined Richard at sea for the 1881 census when they were recorded as living aboard The Falcon where a second son, Richard had been born.
John Cooper Burt's chosen trade was that of the shipwright and in the 1880s he moved to Portsmouth where he lived in the house of his uncle Arthur J. Cooper, also a shipwright, at 62 Timpson Road, near Fratton Road. It is not known at what point he joined the Royal Navy but he was almost certainly at sea with them at the time of the 1901 census by which time he had married Matilda Hopkins at East Preston in Sussex and fathered two children, Albert and Harold, born in 1899 and 1900 respectively. Matilda and the children were still at Littlehampton for the 1901 census but had moved to Portsmouth by 1911 when they were living at St. Augustine Road.
At the outbreak of the Great War John Cooper Burt's position in the navy was that of carpenter and he was serving aboard HMS Bulwark. On the morning of 26th November 1914 the ship was at anchor in the estuary of the River Medway when a mighty explosion ripped through her, probably caused by shells being stored too close to a boiler room bulkhead. Only 14 members of her complement of 750 men survived. John Cooper Burt was not among them.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Carpenter John Cooper Burt, Royal Navy, HMS Bulwark, died 26/11/1914, age 46. Lost at sea. Named on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 1). Husband of Matilda Burt, of 133, St. Augustine Rd., Southsea, Portsmouth.
John Burt is also commemorated on the Trinity Methodist Church WW1 Memorial and the Cenotaph. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Tim Backhouse
September 2014