Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The army was a defining feature of the Rourke family with Reginald enlisting with the Tank Corps and his father George serving with the Royal Engineers. A typical consequence of this service was that the family rarely stayed in the same place for very long.
The census of 1881 provides the earliest definite sighting of George Hunter Rourke (b. 1857) when he was already a Lance Corporal serving in the Royal Engineers in barracks at Gillingham, Kent. The following year he married Amy Gardyne (b. 1862) in the district of Medway. George was posted to Cork, Ireland shortly afterwards and Amy must have gone with him as their first three children were born there but by 1891 the couple were back in England, at Aldershot, and George had been promoted to Sergeant-Major. The census that year shows that the three children were Agnes (b. 1885), Edith (b. 1887) and Reginald Gardyne (b. 1889). A fourth child, Dorothy, would be born in 1892, at Aldershot.
There is no trace of the family in the 1901 census and eight years later George died but his last act may have been to bring the family to Portsmouth as the 1911 census shows them at 71 Winter Road, Southsea.
At the outbreak of the Great War Reginald was 24 years old but it's not known when he enlisted. When he did so he joined the Tank Corps and presumably saw a lot of action. He returned to Portsmouth in 1918 to marry Renee Isobel Dawkin (b. 1888), daughter of Clinton and Fanny Dawkin of Essex Road, Milton. The wedding was registered at Westbourne. Reginald must have returned to the front shortly after and survived until Armistice day, however he died in February 1919, either from injuries sustained or disease.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Sergeant Reginald Gardyne Rourke (201624), Tank Corps, died on 25/02/1919, age 29. Buried at St. Pol British Cemetery, St. Pol-Sur-Ternoise, Pas de Calais. Son of George and Amy Jane Rourke; husband of Rene Isobel Rourke, of 67, Tredegar Rd., Southsea, Portsmouth.
Reginald Rourke is remembered on a Family Gravestone in Highland Road Cemetery and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
April 2014