Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The men from the villages and small towns surrounding Portsmouth have long viewed the borough as a promising source of work, especially that of a menial nature. One of those men who made the short journey into Portsmouth was James Cawte's father William who arrived from Fareham in the late 1870s.
William was not alone when he made the move to Portsmouth having married Eliza Scorey at Fareham in 1876. Together the couple set up home at 61 Albion Street, off the northern end of Commercial Road, an area in which there were several thriving industries who might have had need of another labourer. By 1881 they had three children to feed, Charlotte, Annie and William and by 1891 whilst still living at the same address they had three more, Sarah, Albert and James who was born in 1890. Two further children, Bessie and Charlie arrived in the 1890s.
The 1911 census recorded the family living at 16 Stanley Road, Stamshaw but it doesn't include James's mother Eliza who had died in 1904. William and the two eldest boys still at home, Harry (aka Albert) and James were all working as labourers at the Chemical Works, the Gas Works and a brewery respectively.
James Cawte joined the army very soon after the outbreak of the Great War and was sent to France with his Special Company of the Royal Engineers in October 1914. Following the German's first use of poison gas in 1915 the Engineers were given the task of responding in kind so it's quite likely that James was required to deploy gas, possibly as early as September 1915. He survived for nearly two years before losing his life in August 1917. He was buried at Noeux-Les Mines which was the cemetery used by the 7th Casualty Clearing Station so it's likely that James was wounded on the battlefield and later died in hospital.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists James Cawte Pioneer (192418), Royal Engineers, died on 08/08/1917, age 27. Buried at Noeux-Les-Mines Communal Cemetery. Son of William Cawte, of 16, Stanley Rd., Stamshaw, Portsmouth.
James Cawte is remembered on the Cenotaph, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X, p41.
Tim Backhouse
January 2015