Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The 1841 census lists Peter and Jane Gibbon living in Manchester with their three children, the oldest of which was Isaac who was born in 1820. Isaac Gibbon was the grandfather of Albert Jacob Gibbon and he married Elizabeth Gillebrand in 1845. The couple had one child, Samuel, in Manchester and then headed south to Portsmouth where the 1851 census found them at 37 Trafalgar Street with Samuel and their second son Isaac jnr. The reason for Isaac and Elizabeth's move to Portsmouth almost certainly concerned Isaac's occupation as a boilermaker and the growing importance of steam power for use in naval shipping.
By 1861 the family had moved to 30 Duncan Street, Landport, which was somewhat closer to the Dockyard. The census that year notes that Isaac and Elizabeth had three more children, Sarah, Jane and William, born respectively in 1852, 1857 and 1860. Ten years later the family were at 26 Cosham Street, off Lake Road and had increased by the birth of one more child, Thomas in 1865. It was around this time that Isaac jnr. followed his father into the boilermaking trade and in 1872 left home to marry Sarah Maria, daughter of William and Elizabeth Humphries, who had been born in 1852. As William Humphries was a ship's stoker it seems possible that Isaac met Sarah through his contact with William.
Isaac and Sarah were living at 2 Lion Street, in the heart of Portsea, at the time of the 1881 census which reported that by then they had two children, William Isaac and Albert Jacob Gibbon. Over the next twenty years the family moved first to 40 Nelson Road, Landport and then to 37 Prince's Street, also in Landport. During this time the two sons moved into the shipbuilding world, following their father and grandfather, though in their case they took up jobs as shipwright and marine engine draughtsman.
Albert Jacob's job as a shipwright was qualified in the 1911 census by the rider "Recorder of Work" which would suggest that he had greater responsibility than the average worker which makes it all the more strange that during the Great War he served in the army rather than the navy. Indeed it seems likely that he joined the Hampshire Regiment before the beginning of the war as by 1916 his rank was that of Company Sergeant Major but as he was in the 14th Battalion, which wasn't formed until September 1914, it's probable that he was drafted in from another battalion as a more experienced soldier to support the raw recruits. The Battalion did not reach France until March 1916 when they took part in the Battles of the Somme. Albert Gibbon won the Military Medal at some point but was killed in action within 6 months of arriving in France.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Albert Jacob Gibbon, Company Sergeant Major (14081), 14th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, MM, died 09/10/1916, aged 40 years. Buried at Auchonvillers Military Cemetery. Son of Isaac and Sarah Maria Gibbon, of 43, Sandring[ham] Rd., Fratton, Portsmouth. Native of Portsmouth.
Albert Gibbon is also commemorated on the Cenotaph, Guildhall Square. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Tim Backhouse
February 2015