Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

It would have been heartbreaking for any family to lose a son in the Great War; more so to lose two. Consider then, those unfortunate families who lost three sons, as did the Drains - brothers James, Richard and Charles Drain.
The background history of the Drain family is partially obscured by the lack of evidence but we know that the head of the household, Harry Drain was born in Portsmouth in 1857, the fourth child of Charles and Mary Drain. In 1861 Charles was a Dockyard Labourer and the family lived at 37 Seymour Street, off Buckland Street. In 1879 Harry met and married Elizabeth Sharp and together they eventually had 12 children, nine of which survived into adulthood.
The family do not appear in the censuses for 1871, 1881 and 1891, but we do know they were present in Portsmouth between 1882 and 1886 when their first three children, Harry (b. 1882), William (b. 1884) and James (b. 1886) were born. We further know that the next three children, Maud (b. 1894), Richard (b. 1896) and Charles (b. 1899) were born in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
By 1901 the family were back in Portsmouth where they rented a house at 32 Merry Row. It must have been a struggle for such a large family, by then augmented by the arrival of Arthur (b.1900), to survive on the wages Harry brought home from his job as a Dockyard Labourer.
For his part, James Drain found a job as a stoker at the Gas Light Company; his wage must have been a bonus to the family after Harry died in 1908, leaving Elizabeth to raise six children, but it wasn't to stay that way for long. In 1910 James married Emma Jane Robinson and soon after moved to 15 Chapel Street where their daughter Ethel Elizabeth was born. For the 1911 census they innocently named themselves "Mr. J" and "Mrs" Drain rather than include their first names.
James may not have enlisted in the army in the first wave of volunteers for the Great War as when he did he found himself in the 2nd Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment which arrived in Gallipoli in April 1915. Fighting was continuous for several months when in August came the Battle of Krithia Vineyard at which Private James Drain lost his life.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Private James Drain, (14480), 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, died on 06/08/1915, aged 29 years. He is remembered on the Helles Memorial, Panel 125-134 or 223-226 228-229 & 328. Son of Harry and Elizabeth Drain, of 18, Buckland St., Portsmouth; husband of Emma Jane Drain, of 9, Arnaud St., Buckland, Portsmouth.
James Drain is also remembered on the Portsea Island Gas Light Company WW1 memorial in Guildhall Square, and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
The extended Drain family seem to have occupied houses within a relatively small area of Portsmouth for at least a couple of generations. Centred on Buckland Street, the area included Seymour Street, Arnaud Street and Chapel Street. It seems likely that the wider family had another five sons serving in the Great War, but the only casualties seem to be those of the brothers James, Richard and Charles.
The articles on brothers Richard Drain and Charles Drain
Tim Backhouse
February 2014