Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Although both of Ernest's parents were born in Portsmouth there is no confirmed documentary evidence to show either of them living there prior to the 1901 census. Later evidence suggests that his father Charles was born in 1859 and his mother Elizabeth in 1861. In the 1911 census they declared that they had been married in 1879 but the only record that could refer to them gets both their names wrong, or at least ambiguous.
Beginning then with the 1901 census which recorded them living at 25 Farlington Road, North End and Charles being described as a Coppersmith's Assistant. With them were eight children born between 1881 and 1901, James, Arthur, Rosina, Sarah, Joseph, George, Albert, Ernest and Victor. Ernest being born in 1897.
By the time of the 1911 census the family had moved to 12 Connaught Road, North End, the eldest four children had left the household and Ernest was working as a Shop Boy in a Draper's establishment. At the outbreak of the Great War Ernest was 17 years of age and may well have volunteered soon afterwards. He joined the Royal Engineers and was assigned to the Hampshire Fortress Company which was chiefly engaged in search light duties in Portsmouth and Eastleigh. It's very probable that he never saw active service abroad as he died in May 1915 and was buried in Portsmouth. Further details are unknown.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Sapper E Coates, (1073), 3rd/2nd Hants Fortress Company, Royal Engineers, died on 01/05/1915. Buried in the Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth (Grave Ref: Andrew's.12.3.). Son of Mr. and Mrs. Coates, of 12, Connaught Rd., North End, Portsmouth.
Ernest Coates is remembered on the Buckland United Reformed Church WW1 Memorial and the Cenotaph in Portsmouth. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X.
Tim Backhouse
November 2014