Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War


The Casey family name almost certainly originated in Ireland but in George Gordon's case every member of his immediate family were born in Portsmouth. This doesn't necessarily mean that their history is easy to trace as his father, Patrick Albert Casey and quite possibly his grandfather were in the navy and often at sea, especially when the censuses were taken.
It is known that Patrick Albert was born in Portsmouth in 1863 but he was not present in the UK for the 1871 census, possibly because his father was in the navy and had taken his family with him on an overseas posting. By the time of the next census in 1881 Patrick Albert had himself joined the navy and was serving overseas as a Domestic 3rd Class aboard HMS Esk. The family emerge from the mist, at least partially, in 1884 when Patrick Albert married Alice Gallery. Unfortunately, there is no record of Alice Gallery anywhere in the UK prior to that date, not even in the Birth registers.
Patrick and Alice set up home at 38 Curtis Terrace where their children George Gordon and Victor Harold were born in 1887 and 1889 respectively. At the 1891 census Patrick Albert was again at sea as he was for the 1901 census which listed Alice and the boys at 22 Thorncroft Road.

In the meantime 1899 had seen George Gordon commence attendance at the Higher Grade School on Victoria Road North on a Mayor's Scholarships to what was then the "Organised Science" division of the School. After three years of highly creditable work as a scholar he left to become a pupil teacher under the Local Education Authority. Beginning in September, 1905, he later spent two years at the Isleworth Training College, and finished this period by securing a place in the first class at the Teacher's Certificate Examination.
At the 1911 census, George Gordon is listed as still living at home with his parents and brother, though the home itself had been re-located to 43 Frensham Road in Southsea. His occupation was recorded as a teacher for the Corporation, whereas Patrick Albert had by then retired from the navy and was present for his first census.
On the outbreak of war George Gordon set aside his work as Assistant Master in the Bishop's Waltham Elementary School to become a Gunner in the Territorial Division of the R.G.A. After a short time spent at the Spit Bank Fort off Portsmouth he fell sick, and following an operation, died on 29th November, 1914, when 27 years of age. The military funeral at Milton Cemetery was attended by an unusual number of officers, who elected thus to express their regret at his loss and their appreciation of his worth.
The photograph above was taken from a WW1 memorial booklet published by Southern Grammar School. Extracts also appear above.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Gunner GG Casey, (656), Royal Garrison Artillery, died on 29/11/1914. Buried in Portsmouth (Milton) Cemetery (Grave Ref: G.18.29).
Gordon Casey is remembered on the Southern Grammar School WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
June 2014