Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

With both a father and a grandfather who had spent their working lives at sea it was not surprising when Stanley Meades decided to join them. What was not expected perhaps was that he chose the Royal Navy rather than the Merchant Marine.
The first of the three sailors that can be located in the archives was William Meades who at the census in 1851 was a Master Mariner at the age of 28, married to his wife Susan and living at 2 Waterworks Lane, off Middle Street, with their son William James (b. 1849). Ten years later at the 1861 census William and Susan were absent, presumably at sea, whilst their son had been left in the care of his grandmother Mary Meades who was a Licensed Victualler at the Three Tuns, East Street.
The younger William left the care of both his parents and grandmother in 1870 when he married Martha Kennett and moved with her into shared accommodation at 70 Crasswell Street. By the 1881 census William James had qualified for his Master Mariner's ticket and moved with his wife and growing family to 39 Upper Church Path. Eventually the couple would have six children, Martha (b. 1872), Valentine (b. 1876), Stanley (b. 1879), Annie (b. 1881), Flora (b. 1883) and Mary (b. 1886) but would give up their own home by 1891 in favour of moving in with Martha's 76 year old father George Kennett at 46 River Street.
Stanley Meades must have decided to join the Royal Navy almost as soon as he was old enough as by 1901 he was serving as an Able Seaman aboard HMS Majestic in foreign waters. The 1911 census records Stanley working as AB Executive on HMS Haughty, then moored in Portsmouth Harbour but around the outbreak of the Great War he was transferred to the SS Princess Irene, an ocean liner that was requisitioned by the Royal Navy on completion in 1914 and converted to an auxiliary minelayer. On 27 May 1915, she exploded and sank off Sheerness, Kent with the loss of 352 lives. Such was the enormity of the explosion wreckage was flung up to 20 miles away.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Able Seaman Stanley Meades (180557), Royal Navy, HMS Princess Irene, died 27/05/1915, aged 36. Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 7). Son of William James and Martha Meades, of 11, Exmouth Rd., Southsea, Portsmouth.
Stanley Meades is also commemorated on the Anglican Cathedral WW1 Memorial Cross (as S. Meade) and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Tim Backhouse
November 2014
With thanks to Cynthia Sherwood for additional research