Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Joseph Gilbert Romer was born in Portsea (in 1881) unlike his father Benjamin who first saw the light of day in Constantinople (in 1843). Nothing else is known about Benjamin until he crops up in the 1881 cenus in Portsmouth.
The census tells us that Benjamin had previously spent some time in Shoreditch, London as he had married Rebecca who was born there, as were their first five children, Rosalie, Ann, Paulina, Benjamin and Ada. The family had moved to 3 Salisbury Terrace, Buckland Road, Portsmouth in time for the 1881 census when two more children, both born in Portsea, were listed - Lavinia and, youngest of all, Joseph Gilbert.
Benjamin, who was a hairdresser, did not appear in the 1891 census but Rebecca and the four youngest children did. They were living at 111 Queen Street in what was probably a shop at which Rebecca acted as hairdresser and tobacconist. In the late 1890s Joseph Gilbert left home to join the navy and appears in the 1901 census as an Able Seaman lodging at his brother-in-law's house at 62 Hanover Street. The rest of his family seem to have disappeared.
In 1905 Joseph married Minnie Louise Edwards but she does not appear in the 1911 census and Joseph, who had risen to become a Petty Officer, and was living aboard HMS Vernon in Portsmouth Harbour. Shortly after the Great War broke out he was serving aboard HMS Osiris when in April 1915 he died, presumably from an accident or disease as the ship itself wasn't involved in any incident at the time.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Petty Officer Joseph Gilbert Romer (186567), Royal Navy, HMS Osiris, died on 25/04/1915. Remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 7).
Joseph Romer is also remembered on the WW1 Memorial at St. John's RC Cathedral and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
April 2014