Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The connection between a man lost in the Great War and the town of Portsmouth can sometimes be slim. In Alexander Kerr's case definitive evidence is non-existent but there is still some leeway worthy of consideration.
Alexander had been born in Glasgow in 1882 and left home to join the Royal Navy almost as soon as he was old enough. In the course of his travels he would have put into Portsmouth on several occasions but that on it's own does not establish a connection with the town. That came about early in 1911 when he married Nellie Swan, the daughter of Edred and Lizzie Swan of 127 New Road, Buckland. The 1911 census, which was called after he marriage, records that Alexander was on board HM Sub C37 in Portsmouth Harbour and that Nellie was living with her parents.
The only condition under which Alexander could be considered a 'man of Portsmouth' was if his home at the outbreak of the Great War was in Portsmouth. The definition of 'home' is vague but having married Nellie three years before the outbreak it can only be supposed that he spent at least some time with her at her parent's house, but whether he thought of that as his home, rather than say Glasgow, is a matter that cannot be ultimately resolved. For the purposes of this article it is taken that he did.
The details of Alexander's naval career are mostly unknown to the author at the time of writing except that in March 1917 he was serving aboard HM Submarine E49. On the 12th of the month E49 sailed from her base in the Shetlands to carry out a patrol in the North Sea. As she passed the island of Huney observers onshore heard a loud explosion; subsequent examination of the area found much debris. Later, divers found the wreck of the boat with her bows blown off, strongly suggesting that she had hit a mine laid by UC 76 a few days earlier. There were no survivors.
Further Information
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records Alexander Kerr Chief Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class (271504), Royal Navy, HM Sub E49, age 35 years, date of death 12/03/1917. Remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 3). Son of Thomas and Margaret Kerr, of Glasgow; husband of Nellie Edith Kerr, of 127, New Rd., Buckland. Portsmouth.
Alexander Kerr is also remembered on the Cenotaph in Guildhall Square. He is not commemorated in the National Roll of the Great War, Section X.
Tim Backhouse
March 2015