Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The name of Rudmore means little to the 21C Portmuthian apart, perhaps, from the eponymous roundabout at the beginning of the M275. In 1861, however, long before the building of the motorway (and the Ferryport) Rudmore had a distinct identity, bounded on the west by Portsmouth Harbour, on the south by Rudmore Mill and timber yard and on the east and north by open ground. The area was the home of several long standing Portsmouth families, whose income largely derived from the harbour and the sea. One of these was the Chalmers family.
At the 1911 Census Henry William Robert Chalmers was 14 years old living at 3 Rudmore Cottages with his 39 year old Barge Captain father, Henry, mother Isabella and three younger siblings. Ten years earlier they had been living at what was then known as Rudmore Square but which may well have been the same place with a different name. Next door lived another branch of the Chalmers family.
Henry Chalmers snr. had connections to the sea long before he made his living by it as his father William had been a fisherman, as indeed had William's father, Daniel. And all had lived in Rudmore.
Henry William Robert Chalmers was just 17 years old at the outbreak of the Great War but nevertheless enlisted alongside the first wave of enthusiastic volunteers. He was sent to the Western Front in March 1916 where shortly afterwards he took part in the Battle of the Somme. He died on 30th June 1916.
Two years later in 1918 Henry's cousin James Edward Chalmers, who had lived next door to Henry in 1901, also died in action in France.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Henry William Robert Chalmers, Private (12593), 14th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, died on 30/06/1916, aged 19 years. Buried in St. Vaast Post Military Cemetery, Richebourg-L'avoue (Grave Ref: lll.L.9.). Son of Henry and Isabella Chalmers, of 2, Rudmore Place, Portsmouth.
Henry Chalmers is remembered on the St. John the Baptist Church WW1 memorial. The memorial was transferred to St. Agatha's Church, Market Way when St. John's* was declared redundant in 1980. Also remembered on the Cenotaph and in the National Roll, Vol. X, p41.
Tim Backhouse
January 2014

*St. John the Baptist's Church was on Simpson Road, just north of the junction between Twyford Avenue and the Rudmore roundabout. It was converted to private accommodation.