Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

In these pages the focus has remained almost exclusively on the lives of those who died in the Great War. Although it has been tacitly acknowledged that each loss will have had a profound effect on the family concerned, some losses can seem to be more devastating than others. A case in point is that of George Albert Chetwood whose death left his wife to bring up at least four children on her own.
The Chetwood family's connection to the sea went back to before 1860 when George Albert's father, George D. Chetwood was serving in the merchant services. He had married Caroline Smith in 1866 and set up home at 2 Hope Place, off Upper Church Path where their first child Alice was born. By 1881 the family had moved to 17 Claxton Place and declared in the census that year that George D. was absent at sea and that there were three more children, George Albert, Albert and Ellen.
George Albert Chetwood must have left home to join the navy almost as soon as he was old enough to be acceptd as at the census in 1891, when he was just 17 years old, he was on board HMS Hero at Weymouth. The same thing happened ten years later when he was serving on HMS Edinburgh at Sheerness when the census came around. By that time however he was no longer single, having married Alice Rebecca Wells in 1900.
The 1911 census shows George Albert and Alice residing at 289 Queens Road, Buckland. George had attained the rank of Warrant Officer and the couple had four children, Alice, Gladys, Winifred and Freda, all under 10 years of age.
Nothing is known of George's wartime experience except that he was serving aboard HMS Patia, which was protecting Altlantic convoys in 1917 but by March 1918 was moored at Avonmouth. There seem to have been no notable incidents prior to the 4th March when George Chetwood died, but as he was buried in Portsmouth it seems likely that he succumbed to illness.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists George Albert Chetwood Chief Gunner, Royal Navy, HMS Patia, died 04/03/1918, aged 44. Buried Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth (Grave Ref: Palin's 7.75.). Husband of Alice R. Chetwood, of 289, Queen's Rd., Copnor, Portsmouth.
George Chetwood is also commemorated on the St. Alban's Church WW1 memorial and the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
March 2014