Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The Kent family's connection to Portsmouth definitely goes back to 1863, when Herbert Edward's father, Charles Arthur Kent, was born on Portsea Island, and probably much further but this cannot currently be proved as there is a break in conclusive evidence which prevents the identification of Charles's father.
The census of 1881 offers the earliest direct trace of Charles Kent. It places him on Fort Cumberland Road, Eastney as a boarder and working as a grocery assistant. In 1889 the 25 year old Charles married Eliza Stone at Fareham. She had been born in 1867 at Gillingham in Dorset. Their first child Ethel Sally was born in 1891 at Ware in Hertfordshire a few weeks before the 1891 census found her and her parents living at Stratford-on-Avon.
The 1901 census records that the Kents were back in Portsmouth, living at 103 Oxford Road, Southsea. Charles's occupation was then described as a Brewer's Clerk so it may well have been the brewery business that had taken him to Ware and Stratford. With Charles and Eliza were three more children, Frederick, Herbert Edward and Reginald Horace, born in 1894, 1897 and 1899 (in Southsea) respectively.
Charles Kent died in 1907 and Eliza took work as a sick nurse to support the family. The two eldest children had left home by 1911, leaving just Herbert and Reginald with their mother at Oxford Road. Herbert was the next to go when he joined the Royal Navy, probably in 1912/13. Little is known of his naval career except that in May 1916 he was serving as an Able Seaman aboard HMS Invincible as it entered the Battle of Jutland. At six-thiry in the evening of the 31st May with the battle in full flow a shell hit Q turret and burst inside blowing the turret roof into the air. Seconds later a huge explosion amidships blew the Invincible in half. The two ends of the ship remained sticking out of the water for several hours before they sank. Six of her crew survived and were rescued by HMS Badger. 1,026 men died, more than 130 of them from Portsmouth.
Further Information
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records Herbert Edward Kent Able Seaman (J/22267), Royal Navy, HMS Invincible, age 19 years, date of death 31/05/1916. Remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 13). Son of Eliza Kent, of 103, Oxford Rd., Southsea, Portsmouth, and the late Charles Arthur Kent.
Herbert Kent is also remembered on the Cenotaph in Guildhall Square. He is not listed in the National Roll of the Great War, Section X.
Tim Backhouse
March 2015