Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

If it were not for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records Edward Chilman would probably never have been recognised as a man of Portsmouth as he is commemorated nowhere in the city. To make the situation even more difficult Edward's family appear in only one census return between his birth in 1876 and his death in 1914, though Edward himself makes a late reappearance in London in 1911.
The sole record of Edward's family comes from the census of 1881. In it the head of the household was James William Frederick Chilman, a bootmaker living at 54 Lower Arundel Street, who had been born at London in 1845. With him were his wife Emma Louisiana and their children Henry (b. 1875 in London), Edward Rene (b. 1876 in Portsea), Matilda (b. 1877 in Portsea), William (b. 1888 in Portsea) and Charles (b. 1880 in Portsea).
The censuses for 1891 and 1901 have yet to reveal the whereabouts of any member of the family though in Edward's case that may have been because he had joined the navy and was away at sea. By 1911 he had retired from the navy and was working as a dockyard labourer whilst living at Whitechapel, London with his wife Eliza.
At the outbreak of the Great War Edward was recalled to the navy and posted to HMS Hogue. In September 1914 the Hogue was sailing with HMS Aboukir and HMS Cressy as part of the 7th Cruiser squadron in the North Sea when Aboukir was hit by a torpedo. The Hogue closed with her sister ship to lend assistance but was then also hit by a torpedo from the German submarine U9. HMS Cressy was similarly hit. Many men, including Edward Chilman, managed to jump into the sea and though some were rescued around 59 bodies were washed up on the coast of Holland. Edward Chilman was amongst them.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Edward Renne Chilman Seaman (B/3745), Royal Navy, HMS Hogue, died on 22/09/1914, age 38. Buried at 's Gravenzande General Cemetery in Holland.
Edward Chilman's name does not appear on any memorial in Portsmouth, nor is he listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X.
Tim Backhouse
January 2015