Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

By virtue of his birth at Portsmouth in 1894 it is certain that William Thomas was entitled to be commemorated locally. The same certainty of birthplace cannot be applied to his father Edward Henwood who variously listed it as Portsmouth and St. Giles, Berkshire. To compound the difficulty in following Edward his attitude to his age was much the same, seemingly adding or subtracting ten years to it when he felt inclined. To date no positive identification of his birth has been possible.
The earliest record in which Edward appears with a degree of certainty was in 1879 when he married Elizabeth Ann Hughes at Portsmouth. She was the daughter of Eli, a policeman, and Kate Hughes and was born in 1854 in Dorset. They are both missing from the 1881 census but appear 10 years later when they were living at 6 Camber Alley at Point, Old Portsmouth. By then they already had at least five children, Albert, Kate, Ellen, John and May.
Edward Henwood died in 1900 by which time two more children had been born - Adelaide and William Thomas. The 1901 census lists Elizabeth and all seven children living at 2 Oyster Street but none of the family are recorded in Portsmouth in 1911 though Kelly's 1913 Directory lists Mrs. EA Henwood at 3 Frederick Street, in accord with the CWGC record.
At the outbreak of the Great War William Thomas was 19 years of age and may well have enlisted immediately the call for volunteers went out. However, had he done so he would surely have joined the Portsmouth Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment whereas he ended up with the Rifle Brigade. Nothing further is known about his military life other than it ended when he was killed on 5th May 1916.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Rifleman WT Henwood (S/14313), 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade, died 05/05/1916, aged 21. Buried at the Becourt Military Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, (Grave Ref: I.K.23.). Son of Mrs. E. A. Henwood, of 3, Frederick St., Portsea, Portsmouth.
William Henwood is remembered on the Anglican Cathedral WW1 Memorial Cross and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X.
Tim Backhouse
November 2014