Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Records relating to the Roles family are almost non-existent prior to their arrival in Portsmouth around 1890. Albert Edward was born shortly after their move to the Borough in 1892 but the first documentary evidence about them doesn't come until the 1901 census.
This tells us that Albert's father James was a slaughterman, born in Salisbury in 1857 whilst his mother Annie cam from Havant where she was born in 1858. No record of a marriage between James and Annie has been identified as yet. Their children were Jessie (b. 1882, Salisbury), Florence (b. 1887, Salisbury), Alice (b. 1891, Portsea), "Arthur" (b. 1892, Portsea) and Blanche (b. 1897, Portsea). The reference to "Arthur" is a mistake as in every other respect this person corresponds with what is known about Albert Edward.
The family's first recorded address was 50 Highbury Street in the heart of Old Portsmouth, and, despite the death of James in 1910, they stayed there until well after the end of the Great War. Albert Edward was still living there with his mother, sister Blanche and grandmother Harriett Dobbs in 1911 when he was described as an "Errand Boy, Wine and Spirits".
When the Great War Broke out Albert was 22 years old but he didn't volunteer to join the army until February 1915 when he enlisted with the Hampshire Regiment. After training he was drafted to France in April 1916 where he took part in the Battle of the Somme and was wounded. Returning to his unit he also saw action at Arras and Passchendaele. He lost his life in Septemebr 1917.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website lists Private AE Roles (15471), 14th Battalion Hampshire Regiment, date of death, 16/09/1917. He is buried at Voormezeele Enclosures No. 1 and No. 2, Grave Ref I.J.2.
Albert Roles is remembered on the Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X p196.
Tim Backhouse
October 2014