Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Both John George and his father William were born in Portsmouth in 1885 and 1852 respectively. The family connection to Portsmouth probably goes back to earlier generations but this cannot be verified at present as the earliest record for William comes in the 1861 census when he was eight years old in which he was recorded living in the household of Robert Andrews and his wife Betsy and was described as a 'son-in-law'. It is not known what this implies as if he were Betsy's son the description would normally be 'step-son'.
The Andrews family were living in Crown Street, Old Portsmouth where they remained in overcrowded conditions for both the 1861 and 1871 censuses. Shortly afterwards, in 1872, William escaped the household by marrying Eliza Seal, a domestic servant who had been born at Portsmouth in 1853. By the 1881 census they had established themselves at 21 Oyster Street and had begun their family which then consisted of five children, Eliza, William, Henry, Sarah and Thomas.
The 1891 census records the family at 7 Oyster Street, where they would remain until after the Great War. Four more children had been born by then - Jane, John George, Emily and George - but they weren't to be the last as Charles and Dorothy followed, making the total number of children, eleven. Throughout the history of the family as recorded above William was working as a labourer or general dealer and when he was old enough John George began work as a coal porter.
When the war broke out in August 1914 John George was one of the first to enlist and was posted or later transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. His unit were posted to France where he took part in many famous actions before he lost his life on 16th August 1915 (according to the National Roll) or 16th August 1917 (according to the CWGC).
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Private John George Giles (34225), 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, died 16/08/1917. Commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial, (Panel 88 to 90 and 162.).
John Giles is remembered on the Anglican Cathedral WW1 Memorial Cross and on the Cenotaph. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X, p87.
Tim Backhouse
October 2014