Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

When it is claimed that a serviceman who died in the Great War came from Portsmouth it should be remembered that their connection to the town may have been tenuous in the extreme. A prime example of this was John Edwin Mahoney.
Born in County Cork in Ireland in 1884, John Mahoney had joined the Royal Navy by the time he was 16 or 17 years of age. The Census of 1901 indicates that he was aboard HMS Vernon, associated with torpedo training. At that time Vernon was moored in Fountain Lake, north of Portsmouth Dockyard. Ten years later in 1911 the Census records him staying at the Royal Sailor's Rest on Commercial Road, Portsmouth.
At the outbreak of war John Mahoney was serving aboard HMS Invincible. On 31st May 1916 the ship took part in the Battle of Jutland. At six-thiry that evening 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.
At some point John Mahoney must have taken lodgings in Ernest Road, Buckland as his name appears on the list of parishioners who went to war at St. Wilfrid's Church, and again on the WW1 Memorial there. As Mahoney was born in Ireland it might be assumed he was raised a Catholic and therefore unlikely to attend St. Wilfrid's but this seems to have been no bar to the church claiming him as one of their own. Possibly his name had been put forward by his landlord at Ernest Road.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Able Seaman John Edwin Mahoney, (237083), Royal Navy, HMS Invincible, died 31/05/1916. Has no known grave and is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 13).
John Mahoney is also remembered on the St. Wilfrid's Church WW1 memorial but not on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Tim Backhouse
February 2014