Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The circumstances surrounding the marriage of William Thomas's parents suggest that it was carried out without family approval. His parents were William snr. from Petersfield and Lily Kate Matthews from Westbourne, north of Chichester. There is no evidence that either had a previous connection to Portsmouth but that is where they were married in the first quarter of 1890. Their first child Lily Louisa was born in Southsea less than 6 months later and the family seems to have gone into hiding inasmuch as they do not appear anywhere in the 1891 census.
The family re-emerged for the 1901 census when William snr. and Lily Kate were living at 26 Broad Street, (Old) Portsmouth, a house that a few years later would be demolished to make way for Vospers Shipyard. With them were Louisa and four more children, William Thomas (b. 1892 in Southsea), George (b. 1897 in Gosport), Herbert (b. 1900 in Southsea) and an unnamed child born in 1901. At the time William snr. was described as a stoker and driver of a stationary engine.
In 1909 William snr. died having fathered two more children, Edith in 1904 and Winifred in 1907. His widow Lily Kate then moved the family to 34 Silver Street where they were found in the 1911 census which included William Thomas, home, presumably on leave, from the Royal Navy which he had joined in January 1911 and was serving as a stoker.
Immediately after the outbreak of the Great War William Thomas was engaged in patrol duties. He was then sent to the Dardenelles aboard HMS Irrestible which was lost during the Battle of the Narrows. William Thomas was wounded during the action and sent home to recover after which he was posted to the submarine service. He serving on E47 which in August 1917 was sent on patrol in the vicinity of Texel. When she failed to return she was presumed lost sometime between 12th and 20th August 1917.
In 2002 the wreck of E47 was discovered 11km north-west of Texel. The deck gun had been ripped from it's mounting, probably by a trawler, and this was deemed the cause of the loss.
Further Information
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records William Thomas Kelsey Leading Stoker (K/10196), Royal Navy, HM Sub E47, age 24 years, date of death 20/08/1917. Remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 26). Son of Lily Kelsey, of 34, Silver St., Southsea, Portsmouth, and the late William Thomas Kelsey.
William Kelsey is also remembered on the Cenotaph in Guildhall Square. He is listed in the National Roll of the Great War, Section X, p126.
Tim Backhouse
March 2015