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. It must have been even more difficult after Harry died in 1908 and Elizabeth moved the family to 35 Arnaud Street (1911 Census).
At the outbreak of the Great War Richard was 19 years old but did not enlist in the first wave of volunteers, perhaps because by then he had obtained a job at the Gas Light Company, alongside his brother James, and wanted to help the family financially. When he did enlist, in June 1916, he joined the 2nd/5th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment which was drafted to India. In 1917 he transferred to Palestine and took part in the Battle of Gaza. He was killed in action on 13th November 1917.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Private Richard Drain, (202753), 2nd/5th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, died on 13/11/1917. He is remembered on the Jerusalem Memorial, Panels 28 and 29.
Richard Drain is also remembered on the Portsea Island Gas Light Company WW1 memorial in Guildhall Square, and the Cenotaph. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X, p67.
The articles on brothers James Drain and Charles Drain
Tim Backhouse
February 2014