Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Although the majority of lives commemorated on these pages were lost in action there are several that succumbed to disease during the war and died perhaps long after it had ended. Harold Poole Parfitt was one of them.
Although not a native of Portsmouth Harold Parfitt had been connected to the sea via his father Thomas James Parfitt who had spent much of his life as a mariner whilst his wife Prudence raised a family of 7 children at their home in Bedminster, Gloucestershire. Thomas's position at sea is unclear as he was absent for many censuses when his wife described herself, rather romantically, as a Steamship Engine Driver's wife.
Harold Parfitt left the family home in 1890, aged just 15 years, to join the navy. The following year the census recorded him as being aboard the training ship HMS Impregnable, then moored at Devonport. For much of the next 20 years he served at home and abroad without appearing to make a home anywhere but perhaps his parents house. In 1909 however he married Emily Beatrice Walker, a Portsea girl aged 19. The following year they settled at 16 Mayhall Road, Copnor and had a daughter Elsie.
At the outbreak of the Great War Harold was sent to the North Sea on patrol and escort duties but further details currently elude us. We do know however that at some point he was mentioned in despatches and received a medal for conspicuous gallantry, again the details are not known. In 1917 he was invalided to hospital due to illness and remained there undergoing treament and surgery until 1920 when he died. He was buried in Portsmouth.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Chief Petty Officer Harold Poole Parfitt (157857) RN, HMS Excellent, died 26/02/1920, aged 44. Buried Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth (Grave Ref: Billing's 2.56.). Awarded Silver Medal of the Order of St. Stanislas (Russia), Bronze Medal for Military Valour (Italy). Husband of Emily Beatrice Parfitt, of 13, Mayhall Rd., Copnor, Portsmouth.
Harold Parfitt is commemorated on the St. Alban's Church WW1 memorial and the Cenotaph. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X, p345.
Tim Backhouse
March 2014