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 James Edward Chalmers was living with his father, also called James, his mother Rosina and five younger siblings at 3 Florence Terrace, Rudmore Place. His father James was a bargeman. Ten years earlier their home had been at 2 Rudmore Square, next door to another branch of the Chalmers family. James Edward's grandfather was one of the few who left no record of being connected to the sea, being listed in the 1891 census as a general labourer, but his great-grandfather Daniel was described as a Bargeman in 1871. All of them had lived in Rudmore.
At the outbreak of the Great War James Edward had been only 15 years age and so could not join in the general enthusiasm for enlistment, but in January 1916 he did volunteer and was posted to the Somerset Light Infantry. Just one year later he was killed in action.
James Edward was not the first member of the family to have been killed in the war as his cousin Henry Chalmers, who had lived next door in 1901, had lost his life in June 1916.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists James Edward Chalmers, Private (38681), 7th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, died on 21/01/1918, aged 19 years. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial (Panel 41-42 and 163A). Son of James E. and Rosina E. Chalmers, of 3, Rudmore Place, Stamshaw, Portsmouth.
James 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 which records the date of death as being 21/01/1917.
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.