Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The Laws family had been established in Portsmouth for at least three generations by the outbreak of the Great War, but there were also several periods spent elsewhere.
George Laws, the grandfather of Reginald Alfred, was a cook working in the Dockyard in 1871. He was living at 15 York Street with his wife Elizabeth with whom he had 6 children, the third of which was Henry David, the father of Reginald Alfred. Henry was a blacksmith's apprentice.
At the 1891 Census Henry David Laws, then a qualified Blacksmith, was living in Newcastle with his new wife Alice Louisa. Their first child Harry was born in Newcastle but by the time their second child Reginald Alfred was born in 1894 the family was back in Portsmouth. For the 1901 Census they were living at 51 Lawson Road, Southsea but in 1911 they were on their travels again, this time in Manchester.
Reginald Alfred probably left home before the outbreak of the Great War in order to join the Royal Navy. By the end of 1914 he was a Ship's Steward's Assistant on board HMS Formidable. On 31st December Formidable was taking part in gunnery exercises off Portland when she was hit by a torpedo. At first it was thought she could be saved but a second torpedo sank her at 4.45. Many of her crew were rescued but 35 officers and 512 men, including Reginald Alfred Laws, were lost.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Ship's Steward Assistant Reginald Alfred Laws, Royal Navy (6882), HMS Formidable, died on 01/01/1915, aged 21 years. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial (Panel 12).
Reginald Laws is also remembered on the St. Alban's Church WW1 memorial and the Cenotaph but his name is missing from the National Roll.
Tim Backhouse
February 2014