Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Many families in Portsmouth saw their sons fight in the Great War, but it was unusual for a family to see all four sons enlist, but that is what happened to William and Annie Emis. In their case however three of them came home and only Edward Victor was lost.
William John Emis was born in Bethnal Green in 1849 but his early life cannot currently be traced as he does not appear in any census prior to 1901. It is suspected that this may be due to a change of name as there are traces for William John Ennis, born in the same year, but none for anyone called William Emis. The earliest definitive record of William John is therefore in the 1901 Census when he was recorded living at 58 River Street, Portsmouth.
With William were his wife Annie and five children, William John (b. 1885), Esther (b. 1886), Thomas H. (b. 1889), George (b. 1891) and Edward Victor (b. 1894). All of them apart from William snr. were born in Portsmouth. By 1911 William and Annie were living at 62 St. Mary's Road whilst all of the children apart from Edward Victor, who was working as a Grocer's Shop Assistant, had left home.
In 1913 Edward Victor also left the household in order to sign up with the South Staffordshire Regiment. By that time his three brothers had already joined the army, George and Thomas with the Royal Field Artillery and William John with the Hampshire Regiment. At the outbreak of the Great War the South Staffordshires were immediately drafted to France where they fought at Mons and the subsequent retreat, and at the Battles of the Marne, the Aisne, La Bassée and Ypres. Edward Victor was killed in action on Boxing Day 1914.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Edward Victor Emis, Private (9301), 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, died, 26/12/1914, aged 20 years. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial. Son of William John and Annie Emis, of 9, Forton Rd., Kingston, Portsmouth.
Edward Emis is also commemorated on the Cenotaph, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth. He is listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X, p294.
Tim Backhouse
January 2015