Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

For someone with the ability to obtain a BSc. in Civil Engineering from London University we might expect that Louis Hall had attended one of the more academic schools in Portsmouth but his name is absent from the WW1 Memorials at both Portsmouth and Southern Grammar schools as well as St. John's. The reason is currently unknown, but presumably he was educated elsewhere.
If he did attend a fee paying public school it would represent an interesting improvement in the family's fortunes as in 1881 Louis's father James had been a rather lowly mercantile clerk in Stockton, Durham. In 1887 James married Anastasia and the following year their first child George was born. By the time of the census in 1891 the family had moved to Portsmouth where we find them at the rather prestigious address of 9 Grand Parade whilst James was still working as a clerk. In the household with them were James's parents George and Jane Hall.
In 1892 the couple's second child Louis Sylvester was born to be followed by Eva (b. 1894), Charles (b. 1898) and Mary (b. 1900). By the 1901 census the family had moved to another prominent house at 14 Highbury Street, known as Highbury House and was located just two doors away from Lord Howe's former residence. This move occurred around the time that James terminated his period as a clerk and became a coal merchant.
Still at Highbury Street ten years later Louis Sylvester appears as a 19 year old Civil Engineering pupil, presumably at the Municipal College. His studies may have prevented him enlisting at the outbreak of the Great War but when he did so it was the Royal Engineers that seemed a natural place to utilise his skills. He joined the 490th Company attached to the HQ 8th Division and lost his life in May 1918.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Lieutenant Louis Sylvester Hall, Royal Engineers, 490th Company, attached to HQ 8th Division, died on 27/05/1918. Remembered on the Soissons Memorial (Panel 7).
Louis Hall is also remembered on the WW1 Memorial at St. John's RC Cathedral and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
April 2014