Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The Currie family had been living in Portsmouth since at least 1850, with Thomas's father William Currie being born in 1858. The 1861 Census shows William with his two brothers and widowed mother, Jane, living as lodgers at 4 Park Street. By the time of the next Census Jane had remarried, the new husband being Richard Head and the family living at Sun Court in Portsmouth. By 1879 William had begun a lifetime in the coal business as a labourer, had met and married Lucy and moved to their own home at 2 Hampton Court. Their first child William was born that year and was followed by Lucy in 1881. The family moved to 1 Nobb's Lane where Thomas James Currie was born in 1887. He was followed by three more brothers before the whole family moved again to 31 Britain Street, Portsea.
It must have been very crowded at the Britain Street home as besides the eight members of the family there were three lodgers in 1911 and the house was probably no more than a 'two-up, two-down'. It is no surprise then that Thomas James Currie had joined the Royal Navy several years before the outbreak of World War 1. We have no record of his early years in the Navy but we do know that by 31st May 1916 he was an Able Seaman on board HMS Invincible heading into the Battle of Jutland. At six-thiry that evening with the battle in full flow a shell hit Q turret and burst inside blowing the turret roof into the air. Seconds later a huge explosion amidships blew the Invincible in half. The two ends of the ship remained sticking out of the water for several hours before they sank. Six of her crew survived and were rescued by HMS Badger. 1,026 men died, more than 130 of them from Portsmouth.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Able Seaman TJ Currie (223656) who died on 31st May 1916, aged 29 years.
He is not commemorated in the National Roll (Section 10) but is remembered on the WW1 memorial outside St. Thomas's Church, Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 12) and the Cenotaph.
Tim Backhouse
December 2013

To Cynthia Sherwood for her research