Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Three generations of the Preston family had lived in Portsmouth prior to the Great War, beginning with George's grandfather Alfred Piner Preston (b. 1837) who arrived from his native Cambridge in the 1850s. It is not clear why he chose to move to Portsmouth but within a short time he found himself a job as an assistant at the renowned Grocers shop run by Tea Dealer and Provision Merchant William Feltham at 144 Commercial Road. He was just one of a dozen or more employees, most of whom lived next door at 146 Commercial Road.
In 1861 Alfred married Sarah Angus who had been born at Chatham in 1842 and who probably came to Portsmouth with her parents John and Hannah so that John could work in the Dockyard. Alfred and Sarah set up home at 122 Grigg Street and brought their first child John into the world in 1863. A further seven children would be born to the couple who had to move to larger premises at 69 Grosvenor Street. The seventh child was George Frederick Preston who was born in 1876.
In 1898 George Frederick married Sally Priscilla Gibbs who was born at Portland in 1879 and they quickly settled into a home at 133 Francis Avenue in Southsea. Over the next five years three children were born to George and Sally, George Gibbs, Frederick Leslie and Jack Reginald, born in 1899, 1901 and 1903 respectively. During this period George Frederick was practising as a Law Clerk.
Not much is known of George Gibbs' early life apart from the fact that he attended St. Jude's School. He would have been too young at 15 years to volunteer at the outbreak of the Great War but he would have done so by 1917. He joined the London Regiment (London Scottish) and later transferred or attached to the Gordon Highlanders. He was killed on 13th October 1918 in the area around Cambrai and is buried at Avesnes-Le-Sec with 40 other members of the Gordon Highlanders.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Private George Gibbs Preston, (313078), Gordon Highlanders, 6th/7th Bn. formerly (517034) London Regiment (London Scottish), died on 13/10/1918. Buried in the Avesnes-Le-Sec Communal Cemetery Extension. Son of George Frederick and Priscilla Preston, of 133, Francis Avenue, Southsea, Portsmouth.
George Preston is remembered on the WW1 Memorial Cross at St. Jude's Church and the Cenotaph in Portsmouth. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
July 2014