Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

In 1904, when Ernest Edward began attendance at the Secondary School on Victoria Road North, he must have found himself in the same class as Clarence Wilkinson and Charles White. All three were fated to follow a remarkably similar path towards their deaths, all within a week in the summer of 1916.
It has proved possible to trace the family backgrounds for Wilkinson and White but Courtis appears only once in the UK census and that was when he was a Boy Artificer aboard HMS Fisgard in 1911. No earlier trace has yet been found and consequently we know nothing of his family. Indeed, all we know of him comes from the Memorial Booklet issued by the Southern Grammar School.

From this we know that on leaving school in 1907 Ernest Edward 'entered the Navy as a Boy Artificer, and during his four years' training on the Fisgard he gained the distinction of being placed either first or second on the list in the annual examinations and was awarded several special prizes and finally promoted to E.R.A. six months in advance of the regulation time. From the outbreak of the war he served on the Invincible and took part in the Battle of the Bight, the Falkland Islands engage­ment and some minor skirmishes that the vessel took part in. He was recommended for commissioned rank which he would undoubtedly have obtained had he not lost his life in the Battle of Jutland.
'A spectator in the battle writes :—" The Invincible, which had sunk a German light cruiser after an action lasting five minutes, tackled a vessel of the Derfflinger class. The German ship was hit by the first salvo and was getting several knocks to every one she got home on the Invincible when a shell came which sank the Invincible. There were only six survivors, and when they came up they witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of both the bow and stern of their ship standing vertically fifty feet out of the water."'
Further Information
Some of the information above is taken from a memorial booklet published by Southern Grammar School.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website lists Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class, Edward Ernest Courtis, (272402), Royal Navy, HMS Invincible, date of death, 31/05/1916, remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 15).
Ernest Courtis 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'