Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Of the many first generation Portmuthians who gave their lives in the Great War, Richard Cartwright is one of relatively few who were destined to stay forever.
There is very little documentary evidence describing Richard Cartwright's life but he must have spent some time in the Merchant Navy. It also seems likely that he was serving abroad in 1902 when he married his wife Ethel who was born in South Africa, there being no record of their marriage in UK archives.
Immediately prior to being called up he was working as a retail draper at Handleys Department Store on the corner of Palmerston Road and Osborne Road. Given that he had no earlier connection to Portsmouth it is possible that the draper's job had brought him to Southsea. Whilst in Portsmouth Richard and Ethel lived at 22 Broad Street, off Somers Road, Southsea with their son Frederick (b. 1907) and adopted daughter Eva King (b. 1896).
Richard had served with Mercantile Marine Reserve before the Great War and was probably recalled soon after the outbreak. He was assigned to HM Yacht Helga, an armed steam yacht - officially an "Armed Auxiliary Patrol Yacht" which was taken over by the Admiralty in March 1915. She served as an anti-submarine patrol vessel as well as undertaking escort duty in the Irish Sea, but Richard Cartwright could not have been aboard her for long as in June that year he was either injured or fell ill and died. His body was returned to Portsmouth for burial.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Richard Cartwright, Able Seaman, Mercantile Marine Reserve, HM Yacht Helga, died on 17/06/1915, aged 44 years. Buried Highland Road Cemetery, Portsmouth. Husband of E. M. G. Cartwright, of 22, Broad St., Somers Rd., Southsea.
Richard Cartwright is remembered on the St. Luke's Church WW1 memorial, the Handleys WW1 Memorial (Debenhams) and the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
February 2014