Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

In the 1850s James Edward Kennett's grandfather George (b. 1829), moved to Portsmouth from his family home in Emsworth and took up residence at 25 Chalton Street, Landport. The move may well have been motivated by his marriage in 1855 to Sarah Neale, an 18 year old Portsea girl.
George was initially a labourer at the Dockyard but soon branched out into furniture dealing. At home Sarah was giving birth to the first of nine children. In 1864, after the family had moved to 60 Fratton Road, James Kennett, the father of James Edward Kennett, was born. James snr. must have grown up immersed in his father's business as he became a general dealer after leaving school though he remained at home as the family moved to 134 Fratton Road.
James snr. eventually left home after marrying his wife Emma, but they didn't move far away - just four doors in fact, to 126 Fratton Road. Their first child was James Edward (b. 1885). The family do not appear in the 1901 census, but we know that James Edward married Kathleen May Smith in 1909 and followed the family tradition of becoming a dealer. Their first home was a shared house at 11 Fratton Grove where their daughter Ivy Emily was born.
At the outbreak of the Great War James was 27 years old, but may not have enlisted in the first wave of enthusiasm. It is not known when he did so, or to which regiment he was initially assigned but we do know that by 1918 he had joined the Essex Regiment. In September 1918 he was probably wounded in action and transferred to one of the Casualty Clearing Stations gathered around Ligny-St. Flochel where he died.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Private J E Kennett (276688), 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment, died 02/09/1918, aged 31. Buried in Ligny-St. Flochel British Cemetery, Averdoingt. Husband of Kathleen May Kennett, of 36, Copnor Rd., Copnor, Portsmouth.
James Kennett is remembered on the St. Alban's Church WW1 memorial and the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
There is no evidence that James Kennett ever lived within the area surrounding St. Alban's Church, indeed, living for most of his life within sight of St. Mary's one might have expected that to have been his local church. The only local reference is that for James's wife Kathleen who was living on Copnor Road after the war. It is possible she and James moved there before he enlisted but there is no evidence for or against this premise.
Tim Backhouse
February 2014