Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

April 22nd/23rd 1918 saw the first raid on Zeebrugge, an episode of such heroic endeavour that it resulted in the award of no less than six Victoria Crosses. Two of them were awarded subject to Rule 13 which applied to situations where an entire unit deserved the award but instead one or two representatives were chosen by ballot to receive the honour on their behalf. Had Arthur Henry Cassell survived the battle his name could have been included in the ballot.
Both Arthur Henry and his father William Henry Cassell were Portsmouth born and bred, but it is not clear if this also applies to earlier generations. William Henry first appears in the census of 1881, despite having been born at Portsmouth in 1864. His father was not listed, but his mother was named Martha and she was born at Gosport in 1824. With Martha were her children Charles, William Henry, Edwin, Celia, Arthur, Herbert, Edgar and Walter and they were living at 40 Victoria Street, close to Charles Dickens' birthplace on Commercial Road. William Henry was listed as a Carpenter's Apprentice.
Ten years later the 27 year old William Henry was still living with his mother but the family home had by then shifted to 35 Agincourt Road, off Sultan Road, Buckland. In 1895 he moved out when he married Bessie Stote and together they set up home at 35 Blackfriars Road and later at 106 Jessie Road, both in Southsea. Over the years they had six children - Victor (b. 1896), William Edgar (b. 1897), Arthur Henry (b. 1898), John (b. 1901), Lilian Bessie (b. 1903) and Edwin Herbert (b. 1904). All but one survived infancy. Throughout this period William Henry had plied his trade as a carpenter.
At the outbreak of the Great War Arthur Henry Cassell was 16 years of age and had probably already joined the Royal Navy. His wartime experience prior to the raid on Zeegrugge is currently unknown but the raid itself is understood in very great detail (see though this does not extend to the exact circumstances of his death.
Arthur's brother Victor George Burton Cassell also lost his life as a consequence of his wartime service.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Able Seaman Arthur Henry Cassell, (J/34572), Royal Navy, HMS Vindictive, Mentioned in Despatches, died 23/04/1918, age 21. Named on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 29). Son of William H. and Bessie Cassell, of 206, Fawcett Rd., Southsea, Portsmouth.
Arthur Cassell 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