Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Born in Hambledon, Hampshire in 1884, Frank Clay did not actually move to Portsmouth until 1910 though he must have had prior connections to the town as he married a local woman.
Frank's parents were George and Keziah Clay, born at Hambledon in 1831 and at Meonstoke in 1841 respectively. The 1901 census lists just two children living with them, Frederick (b. 1882) and Frank. In 1906, at the age of 21 Frank married Ada Mary Chase, daughter of Richard and Caroline of Binsteed Road, Portsmouth. Curiously they married at Hambledon rather than in the bride's parish but that may have been more appropriate as the couple settled down in Hambledon where they had two children, Frank (b. 1907) and Cathleen (b. 1909).
The 1911 census records the couple living at 105 St. Vincent Street, Southsea with their children. The motive for the move into town is not known for certain but as both Frank and Ada's father Richard were engaged in the bricklayer's trade the latter may have been in a position to secure work for Frank.
At the outbreak of the Great War Frank Clay not not enlist, presumably because he had a wife and children, but when conscription was introduced in 1916 he would not have had an option. He eventually joined up in June 1916 and was drafted to France in November that year as a member of the Devonshire Regiment. He saw action at Bapaume, Messines and Ypres and was reported missing in October 1917 after which he was presumed dead. He had been awarded the Military Medal for bravery in capturing seventeen prisoners single-handed.
Further Information
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website lists Frank Clay MM, Lance Corporal (26811), Devonshire Regiment, date of death, 26/10/1917, aged 33. Commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial (Panel 38 to 40). Husband of Ada May Clay, of 105, St. Vincent St., Southsea, Portsmouth.
Frank Clay is remembered on the Cenotaph in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X, p46.
Tim Backhouse
December 2014