Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

For the parents of a soldier or sailor serving during the First World War it must have been a time of both pride and fear for their safety. To have had four sons serving simultaneously it must have been especially worrying. That is what faced George and Sarah Dagg but in the end they lost just one of them - Charles Frederick.
George and Sarah Dagg were both born in London, in 1862 and 1865 respectively. They married in 1883 and remained living in London through the birth of their first five children. In the 1890s they decided to move to Portsmouth, possibly because George was a sawyer and there would have been a lot of work with such skills in Portsmouth at a time of naval expansion. At the 1901 Census they were living at 68 Langley Road, between New Road and Queens Road in Buckland.
By 1911 the family had moved to 72 Grafton Street, off Commercial Road, and the census for that year records that the four eldest boys had already joined the services. William who was aged 27 was with the Royal Field Artillery, Herbert (24) had joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry, Joseph (21) was serving in the Royal Navy, as was Charles Frederick, then aged 17 years.
Charles Frederick served in the the Royal Navy for the entire duration of the war, firstly aboard HMS Agincourt on which he served in the Battle of Jutland, and latterly aboard the submarine L55. In the first quarter of 1919 Charles married Leah Matilda Wheeler in Middlesbrough. They could not have had long together as shortly after he left for patrol in the Baltic. Subsequent events are unique in the annals of British wartime history.
Submarine L55 was part of a sea and air operation to ensure the Baltic remained clear of obstruction from the Russian Navy when the boat hit a mine, possibly laid by the British. The submarine sank with all hands and the names of the crew were inscribed on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial as being lost at sea. In 1926 the Russians salvaged L55 and found the bodies of her crew still on board. The bodies were repatriated and were interred in the Haslar Naval Cemetery. The crew members are therefore the only sailors to be named on the Naval Memorial despite having known graves. The full story is told on the Memorials in Portsmouth website.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Petty Officer Telegraphist Charles Frederick Dagg (232071), Royal Navy, serving on Submarine L55, died 04/06/1919, age 26. He is buried at Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery on the screen wall for L55. Son of George and Sarah Dagg, of 72, Grafton St., Mile End, Portsmouth; husband of Leah Dagg.
Charles Dagg is also remembered on the Baltic Waters memorial at Portsmouth Cathedral, on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial and the Cenotaph. His listing in the 'National Roll of the Great War' Section X, is on page 60.
Tim Backhouse
January 2014