Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Despite being born in Portsmouth in 1871 William Crosby, together with his family, moved to Poplar in London a couple of years later and William did not return until the end of the 1890s. As his father William was a sailmaker it seems likely that he was moving from one dockyard to another, but he died before William Edward made the return journey. None of his family accompanied William Ernest to Portsmouth.
One possible reason for his return to Portsmouth was to marry Alice Kate Etherington in 1897. They set up home at 81 Talbot Road, Southsea where their first child Lilian was born in 1901, a second child Alexander followed a year later. The census of that year described William Edward as a 'Town Postman' and he must have been good at his job as by the 1911 census he had also taken on the role of Clerk Assistant Inspector of Telegraph Messengers. That census also noted that the family had moved to 31 Cleveland Road, Southsea.
In August 1914, at the outbreak of the Great War, William Edward enlisted in the army and was posted to the Hampshire Regiment. Shortly afterwards he and his regiment were posted to India where they stayed until March 1915 when they were transferred to Mesopotamia. The talent that saw William Edward rise so quickly in the Post Office came to the fore once more as by September 1916 his rank was that of Company Quartermaster Serjeant. After fighting in various operations William Edward was captured by the Turks and died in captivity.
Further Information
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website lists William Edward Crosby MM, Company Quartermaster Serjeant (73), 1st/4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, date of death, 01/09/1916, aged 45. Commemorated on the Basra Memorial (Panel 21 and 63). Husband of Alice Kate Crosby, of 31, Cleveland Rd., Southsea, Hants.
William Crosby is also remembered on the WW1 Portsmouth Postal District Roll of Honour and the Cenotaph in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X, p58.
Tim Backhouse
December 2014