Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Although he was born in Portsmouth in 1890 Leopold Eliot Poynder was probably taken from the town shortly afterwards and may only have returned on occasional visits to his grandfather. The family as a whole seem to have used Portsmouth as a base, to be born in, and/or, return to, between periods in India where many of the Poynder men served.
The association with India probably began with Leopold Eliot's grandfather, also know as Leopold. He had been born in Clapham, London in 1819 of parents John Poynder (b. 1779) and Elizabeth Brown (date of birth unknown). Leopold snr.'s early life is unknown but we do know that he became a Clerk in Holy Orders and moved to India, presumably serving with the army, before he reached the age of 30. On the 21st December 1849 he married Louisa Margaret Pattle (or Pottle) at Cawnpore, Bengal. She had been born in India in 1852.
Leopold snr. and Louisa had several children whilst still in India, including Charles Eliot who was born on 30th November 1856 and who went on to join Her Majesty's Staff Corps in India. Charles married Noel Susannah Clarke in St. Malo, France in the late 1880s and with her had four children, Winifred, Leopold Eliot, Frederick and Noel. The couple seem to have remained in India, apart from occasional trips back to Britain, for the rest of their lives, or at least until Charles died at Bangalore in 1897 when he had obtained the rank of Major.
In the meantime Leopold snr. and Louisa had returned to Portsmouth after his retirement and took up residence at Lennox Cottage, Clarendon Road, Southsea. His grandson Leopold Eliot probably remained in India as he did not appear in any census record in Britain. There, in 1911, he joined the 6th Gurkha Rifles and was posted to the 1st Battalion with whom he was serving as Signals Officer when the Great War erupted on the other side of the world.
The 1st Battalion, according to the 6th Gurkha Rifles website, left Abbottabad in October 1914, reaching Suez in November. In April 1915 they sailed for Gallipoli. The Battalion saw heavy fighting including the taking of Gurkha Bluff and for his part in this action Poynder was awarded the Military Cross for bravery. He was wounded on 30th June 1915 and subsequently posted to the 2nd Battalion in Mesopotamia. On 26th June 1916 Captain Leonard Eliot Poynder was killed at Nasariyeh and is buried in the CWGC Basra War Cemetery.
Further Information
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website lists Captain LE Poynder, 1st/2nd Battalion, 6th Gurkha Rifles, date of death, 26/06/1916, aged 25, buried at Basra War Cemetery (Grave ref: IV.S.19.).
Leopold Eliot Poynder is commemorated on the St. Jude's Church WW1 Memorial but not on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Research Notes
At the time of his death Leopold may only have been a temporary Captain as he is shown as a Lieutenant in the Regimental History at the time of his death. Certainly he was only a Lieutenant in Gallipoli when awarded the MC.
Leopold Snr. and Louisa remained at Lennox Cottage until Louisa's death in 1896. Some short time later Leopold moved to another house on Clarendon Road called Wootton St. Lawrence where he died in 1904. Although one or two of their daughters had remained at home until the last few years of their lives, by the time of the census in 1911 there was not a single person named Poynder recorded in Portsmouth. It's not currently possible to suggest who may had nominated Leopold Eliot for the memorial at St. Jude's.
Tim Backhouse
August 2014