Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The Cottrell family were 'Pointers' - people who lived at Point, around the Camber - and were recorded there in every census from 1841. And written through the family was the sea, with each generation producing watermen, mariners and boat builders. There could hardly have been a more traditional Portsmouth family.
The earliest date in the family history available in online archives is 1798 when Frank Cottrell's grandfather Thomas was born. This made Thomas 43 years of age when he appeared in the 1841 census, with his wife Sarah and four chidren, living in Tower Street, on the spit of land between the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour and the Camber. They were still at the same address ten years later by which time the family had grown to ten children with Thomas and the three eldest boys all working as mariners.
One of those boys, Henry Cottrell who had been born in 1837, married Ann Craft in 1864. She was the daughter of Richard and Rebecca Craft of 2 Harben's Yard, off East Street, a family that was also dependent on the sea as Richard worked as a pilot. Henry moved in with Ann, her parents and six siblings and by 1881 they had contributed nine children of their own to the household though by that time overcrowding had become such an issue that the Craft family had taken over No. 1 Harben's Yard.
During the next ten years Henry and Ann moved to what the 1891 census enumerator described as 3 Harben Court but it may well have been in the same building they had been living in for the previous 25 years. That census also recorded that another two children had been born to the couple, the youngest being Frank Cottrell. By 1901 the family address had changed to 3 East Street, which once again may have been exactly the same building, and even if not it was very close to it.
The census in 1901 listed the 16 year old Frank working as a boat builder's apprentice but he soon lost the old Cottrell appetite for the sea and joined the Royal Engineers. In 1911 his unit were recorded in Sierra Leone, probably manning coastal defences. After the Great War had begun Frank's Field Company were posted to the Western Front where they would have provided technical expertise at the front. Frank lost his life on the first day of the Battle of Loos, one of 50,000 British casualties in the largely unsuccessful operation.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Sapper Frank Cottrell, (9457), Royal Engineers, died 25/09/1915. Commemorated on the Loos Memorial (Panel 4 and 5).
Frank Cottrell is commemorated on the Anglican Cathedral WW1 Memorial Cross and the Cenotaph. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Tim Backhouse
October 2014