Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

When James's father, James Duffy snr., left home in Armargh, Ireland to join the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers he probably did so thinking that as a soldier he would see the world whereas instead he ended up seeing a lot of Portsmouth. Doubtless he did see some service overseas but in 1890 the Fusiliers were in Victoria Barracks, Portsmouth and it was then that James snr. met and married Emma Bundy who had been born in Salisbury in 1870.
The marriage took place at the end of 1890 but at the census of 1891, some four months later, James was still in barracks and Emma was living at Hereford Street with her mother Frances and step-father Morris Bornash. Sometime later James retired from the army and set up home with Emma at 58 Unicorn Street, in an area that would later be absorbed into the Dockyard. Over the next few years the couple would have six children and have to watch three of them die in infancy. The three survivors were Rose (b. 1896), James jnr. (b. 1897) and Amelia (b. 1899).
The 1911 census records the family at 79 Arnaud Street, Buckland. James snr. was working as a general labourer and James jnr. as an errand boy at a drapers shop. When the Great War broke out in August 1914 James jnr. was 17 years old and was probably one of the earliest to enlist in the army. He may have wished to join his father's old regiment but was instead posted to the Dorsetshire Regiment. James was therefore one of the first soldiers to reach France, arriving there on 16th August 1914. He would have taken part in the Battle of Mons and the subsequent Retreat, the Battle of Marne and the First Battle of Ypres. He was killed in February 1915, aged just 18 years.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list J. Duffy, Corporal, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment, died 20/02/1915, age 18. Buried at Dranoutre Churchyard (Grave Ref: II.B.5.). Son of James and Emma Duffy, of 16, Stirling St., Buckland, Portsmouth.
James Duffy 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