Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War


The Collingwood family spent only a few years in Portsmouth but it was long enough to encompass the life of Cecil Herbert from birth to the outbreak of the Great War. He was therefore a true native of Portsmouth.
It's unlikely his father John would have thought about Portsmouth in the same way as it seems to have been just one of several postings, albeit one that lasted longer than most. John had been born at Poole, Dorset in 1863 but there is little documentary evidence of him being there. It's probable that he joined the Royal Navy at an early age and would doubtless have been familiar with Portsmouth.
In 1892 John Collingwood married Elsie May Cook in Portsmouth. Elsie had been born at Ryde on the Isle of Wight in 1872, daughter of Almeric Athelstan and Emily Cook, both natives of Ryde. The family had however moved to Portsmouth in the 1870s where they lived at 5 Duncan Road, Southsea, a house that could only have been built a few years by the time they moved in.
John Collingwood must have retired from the navy in the 1890s as by 1901 he was recorded in the census as being a Coast Guard, living with his family at Coast Guard Cottages on Lumps Road (Eastern Parade). With John and Elsie were their two children Cecil Herbert and Mahalath born in 1895 and 1897 respectively. The name of the latter came from Elsie's family where her sister had been called Amy Mahalath.

In 1906 Cecil Herbert began attending the Secondary School on Victoria Road North where he stayed until 1909. After leaving school he was for six years an Electrical Engineer Apprentice at the Portsmouth Dockyard. At the 1911 census, 16 year old Cecil Herbert was recorded as living as a boarder in the household of William and Mabel Aslett at 13 Woodmancote Road, Milton. This is slightly odd in that his parents were still living in Southsea (in Almeric Cook's house on Sutherland Road).
In February, 1915, Cecil Herbert left the Dockyard on becoming an Officer of Customs and Excise. He enlisted in the Civil Service Rifles, 15th London Regiment, on the 2nd March, 1917, and after three months' training he was sent to France, and was killed by a shell in a night attack near Glencorse Wood, Ypres, on the 13th August, 1917. He was buried by his comrades in the cemetery at Hooge, east of Ypres. His Commanding Officer wrote: "He was one of my most promising men, and I shall miss him very much."
The photograph above was taken from a WW1 memorial booklet published by Southern Grammar School. Extracts also appear above.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Private CHM Collingwood (535359), London Regiment (Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles), died on 13/08/1917. Buried at Hooge Crater Cemetery (Grave Ref: V.J.12).
Cecil Collingwood is remembered on the Southern Grammar School WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
June 2014