Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Albert John's father, Antonio Petracca was born in Italy in 1856 and moved to Portsmouth in the late 1870s. In 1878 he married Josephine, daughter of Gregorio Bacigalupo of Tower Street, Old Portsmouth. By the 1881 census Antonio and Josephine were living and working at 17 Broad Street running a shop specialising in confectionery and making ice cream. Their third child, John Herbert was born in 1882 and was variously named thereafter as Bertie or Albert John. Five more children were to follow.
Albert John enlisted in the Army in 1901 and so was not at home when the census was called that year. By the outbreak of the Great War he had attained the rank of Sergeant with the Royal Army Service Corps, 372nd Horse Transport Company and saw action in the retreat from Mons and the Battle of Loos. In June 1916 he was the victim of a gas attack from which he suffered severely. He was sent back to England later that year and by October was at Castle Hospital on the Isle of Wight where he died on 1st March 1917.
A military funeral was held at the Holy Trinity Church. Albert John's father Antonio and elder brother Joseph were amongst the mourners whilst the Royal Worcestershire Regiment provided the escort to the Borough Cemetery, Ryde where they fired volleys over the grave and played the Last Post. The grave (Reference, OG.C.119) has been looked after by the Imperial (later Commonwealth) War Graves Commission ever since.
Albert John Petracca is commemorated on the WW1 memorial outside St. Thomas's Church and on the Cenotaph. His name does not appear in the National Roll.
Tim Backhouse
November 2013

To Cynthia Sherwood for her extensive research