Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Neither of Leonard Daniel's parents were born in Portsmouth though they arrived very shortly after they were married. His father, William Hawkins had been born at Manton, Wiltshire in 1852 and joined the Royal Marine Artillery as a Gunner in the 1870s. It was probably at one of his postings that he met and married Leonard's mother Sarah who was from Bude in Cornwall where she had been born in 1875.
It was presumably no more than happenstance that William's first posting after the marriage was to Portsmouth but the couple seemed to like it as they stayed until long after William had retired from the Marines. The 1881 census listed them at 5 Bembridge View with their eldest son William who had been born at Southsea in 1879. Ten years later they were at 5 Hill Lane Terrace with four more children, Ellen (b. 1884), Frank (b. 1886), Frederick (b. 1888) and Leonard Daniel (b. 1889). Over the next decade three more children were born in Portsmouth, Florence in 1892, Alfred in 1894 and Sydney in 1897.
Most of the family are missing from the 1901 census as presumably William had taken them with him on an overseas posting, but Leonard Daniel was left behind as he was attending the naval school at Greenwich. Sometime during the next decade William left the marines, but he and Sarah still opted to stay in Portsmouth, and in 1911 they were recorded living at 181 Powerscourt Road with their four youngest children. This was Leonard Daniel's last year at home as a few months after the census he joined the Royal Navy as a Carpenter.
It's not known where Leonard Daniel was posted in the first two years but he was in Portsmouth in 1913 as he married Laura Caroline Cobb in the third quarter of that year. Laura had been born in Portsea in 1886 and when Leonard met her she was working as a domestic cook, but she does not appear in any census in between. A year after the marriage the Great War began and Leonard found himself aboard HMS Bulwark which on the 26th November 1914 was 'lying at number 17 buoy in Kethole Reach, Sheerness when at 7.50am she was blown apart by a massive explosion' ['British Warship Losses' by David Hepper]. There were just 12 survivors; Leonard Daniel Hawkins was not one of them.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Leonard Daniel Hawkins, (M/4342), HMS Bulwark, Royal Navy, died 26/11/1914, aged 25 years. Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, (Panel 5). Son of Sarah and William Hawkins, of Portsmouth; husband of Laura Caroline Hawkins, of 19, Station Rd., Copnor, Portsmouth.
Leonard Hawkins is also commemorated on the Cenotaph, Guildhall Square. He is listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X, p310.
Tim Backhouse
February 2015