Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Of those men who died in the service of their country during the Great War, one of the oldest must surely have been Edward Gant.
He was born Edward John Derisley Gant in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire in 1862 and came to Portsmouth with his parents Edward (an innkeeper) and Sarah but he doesn't appear in the 1871 or 1881 censuses. His wife Mary, whom he married in 1891, was from Edinburgh and probably met Edward when she found work in Portsmouth. The couple travelled to Edinburgh for the wedding.
The first census in which he appears is that for 1891 which records Edward and Mary living at 20 Caversham Road, Southsea and Edward's occupation as Tram Driver, a calling he was to pursue for the next 20+ years. 1901 saw the couple at 48 Jersey Road, Buckland with their children Irene (b. 1892), Edward (b. 1893), George (b. 1895), Mary (b. 1899) and Eliza (b. 1901), whilst the 1911 census recorded them at the same address and with one more child - James (b. 1905).
When the war broke out Edward Gant was 51 years old and as a family man would not have been required to enlist and yet he did so in September 1914. Perhaps he heard the calling of his family's military background. Although he applied for a posting to France his age was held against him and he spent the next three years guarding German prisoners of war. In September 1917 he fell ill and died shortly after, presumably in Portsmouth as he was buried in Kingston Cemetery.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Private Edward Gant, (31496), 162nd Protection Company, Royal Defence Corps, died on 08/09/1917, aged 55. Buried in Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth.
Edward Gant is remembered on the City of Portsmouth Passenger Transport Department WW1 Memorial, the Buckland United Reformed Church WW1 Memorial and the Cenotaph in Portsmouth. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X, p300.
Tim Backhouse
March 2014
With additional information from Doreen Oliff, granddaughter of Edward Gant