Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The criteria for being listed on these pages covers anyone with a direct personal connection to Portsmouth. In the case of George Thomson Laughland, that connection is that he went to school in Portsmouth though he did not live on Portsea Island.
His family were tailors in Gosport, running their business from their home at 90 North Street. The family was headed by James Laughland (b. 1866 in Scotland) and at the 1911 Census consisted of his wife Janet (b. 1866), sons James (20), George Thomson (18) and William (16) with daughters Agnes (13) and Helen (7). The family were also listed as tailors at 90 North Street in the 1901 Census, but there is no trace of them before that.
George attended the Secondary School at the north end of Victoria Road North, on a site later occupied by Priory School, from 1905-1908. It must have been quite a journey each day. Nothing is known of his time at school, the records show simply that on leaving he joined other members of his family in their business as tailors and outfitters.

George must have enlisted early in the Great War or had previous experience in the army as when he left England for France his rank was 2nd Lieutenant with the 5th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry and for a time he was acting Adjutant.
On 21st June, 1917, he was hit by a shell, receiving severe wounds in the shoulder and back. From the Regimental Aid Post to which he was at once taken, he was conveyed to the 91st Field Ambulance, where he died a few hours later.
There is ample testimony to Lieut. Laughland's popularity and efficiency as an officer in letters to his mother. The Colonel remarks "how very highly thought of he was in the Battalion," and that "he was an exceptionally capable and keen officer . . . well above the average." The Chaplain says : "I knew Mr. Laughland well and I liked him. He was always so kindly and courteous, with officers and men he was popular. His life was clean and straight."
But it may be that the most convincing evidence of his capacity and worth comes from the Sergeant of No. 14 Platoon, D Coy., who, speaking for himself and the men, after saying that he "pays a little tribute to one of the finest officers we have ever had in command," adds that "he was capable of handling the men in a manner that was entirely to their liking and by his tact was able to bring out the best in them on every occasion."
Further Information
The photograph above is taken from a memorial booklet published by Southern Grammar School from which extracts also appear above.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website lists Second Lieutenant GT Laughland, 15th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, date of death, 21/06/1917, aged 24. He is buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery, De Panne, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
George Laughland is remembered on the Southern Grammar School WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph.
Tim Backhouse
December 2013