Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

In 1920 the boundaries of the Borough of Portsmouth were extended to cover the village of Cosham. This meant that the men of Cosham who had died in the Great War were eligible to be included on the Portsmouth Cenotaph which was being planned at the same time. One of those affected was Charles George Henry Derry who had been born in 1900 and lived his entire life in Cosham. Had Charles been a little older he would have been included on the Cenotaph anyway as his father, Charles Albert Derry, did not move to Cosham until the late 1890s.
Prior to the move Charles Albert had spent all his life in Portsmouth and Gosport unlike his father Henry Derry who had been born in Longdon, Litchfield in Staffordshire, and did not arrive in Portsmouth until around 1858. Henry had worked as an agricultural labourer whilst at Litchfield but in the 1850s he gave that up to join the Royal Marines and it was with them that he first came to Gosport where he met and married Martha Ann Fiffins in 1858.
By 1861 Henry and Martha were living at 69 Cottage View, off Arundel Street, Portsmouth with their first child Henry jnr. who had been born in 1860. Ten years later they were back in Gosport and four more children had been born, Margaret in 1864, James in 1865, Charles Albert in 1867 and Jessie in 1870. Later in the 1870s Henry snr. retired from the marines and the family moved back to Portsmouth where in 1881 they were living at 33 New Road. The last two of their children were born there, Edith in 1872 and George in 1874.
In 1898 Charles Albert Derry married Alice Louise Ede (or possibly Farnley) in the District of Fareham which at the time covered Cosham. This seemingly routine record from the archives masks the fact that the couple already had a daughter Phyllis who had been born at Westhampnett in Sussex in 1897. It seems therefore that Alice had moved to Sussex as soon as the couple realised she was pregnant, only returning after the birth. A possible motive for this behaviour could have been Charles Albert's position as a Clerk to the County Court which may have been jeopardised by the presence of an illegitimate child. The marriage the following year would have regularised matters but the couple still opted to live in Cosham (Salisbury Road), a respectful distance from the rest of the community.
Once settled in Cosham Charles Albert and Alice went on to have three more children, Charles George Henry (b. 1900), Edith Irene (b. 1901) and Kathleen Marguerite (b. 1903). At the outbreak of the Great War Charles George was only 14 years of age and would have had to wait until at least 1917 before he could enlist. When he did so he was assigned to the Wiltshire Regiment with whom he probably fought at the Somme and the Lys. He died just two weeks before the Armistice, in October 1918.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Charles George Henry Derry, Lance Corporal (205653), 1st Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, died 28/10/1918. Buried at Awoingt British Cemetery (Grave Ref: II.F.27.). Son of Charles Albert and Alice Louise Derry, of Portsmouth. Native of Cosham, Hants.
Charles Derry is commemorated on the Cenotaph, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Tim Backhouse
January 2015