Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Unlike his father and grandfather who for much of their working lives served in the Royal Navy, Reginald Charles opted to join the army shortly after the outbreak of the Great War.
The father of Reginald Charles was Joseph William Easterbrook Rundell who was born in 1856, in Portsea, to parents Joseph (b. 1820) and Sarah (b. 1828, nee Hellyer) who were married in Gosport in 1850. Joseph snr. was away from the UK for the censuses in 1841 and 1851, serving in the Royal Navy but he was ashore for 1861 when he and Sarah were living at 27 Belmore Terrace, New Road which had only recently been constructed. With them were their three children, Sarah (b. 1852), Joseph William (b. 1856) and Rosetta (b. 1860).
None of the family seems to have been in the UK for the 1871 census but they all appear for 1881 when Joseph and Sarah are living at 54 New Road with Rosetta and two further children, Winifred (b. 1862) and Alfred (b. 1867). Meanwhile Joseph William had left the household, joined the Royal Navy and in 1880 had married Laura Janet Attrill. At the 1881 census he was a Writer 3rd Class aboard HMS Seagull whilst Laura was at their home in Froddington Road with their first born child William who was two months old.
1891 saw Joseph William at sea once more whilst Laura was at their new home at 27 Rugby Road with William and two more boys, Donald (b. 1883) and Percy (b. 1889). Ten years later the family had moved to 117 Manners Road and in the meantime Reginald Charles (b. 1895) had arrived. The 1911 census records that Joseph William was at home having left the navy and living on a pension. Laura and Reginald Charles were the only other ones at home.

Reginald Charles had already been at the secondary school on Victoria Road North for five years and would leave shortly after the census was taken. He then passed the Intermediate Science Examination whilst studying at the Municipal College and working as a student teacher at his old school. He followed this up by training as a teacher at Reading College and obtained a BSc. in 1914, the same year he was gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant in the 13th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.
A memorial booklet published by the Secondary School recalls that; "He took up Trench Mortar work and went to France in 1915 as second in command of the l0th Trench Mortar Battery. During 1916 the Battery experienced much severe fighting from Ypres to the Somme, and was again in the thick of it at the Battle of Arras in April, 1917, when Lieut. Rundell took command and obtained his Captaincy.
He was killed by an exploding shell during the attack on Monchy, near Arras, on May 3rd, 1917. His brother officers agree in testifying to the love and respect in which Capt. Rundell was held by his comrades. One of them writes :-' He treated all his subordinates fairly and never shirked any dangers or responsibilities. We miss and mourn him as a brother, and we can all truthfully and confidently add that the country can ill afford to lose gallant gentlemen such as he.'"
Laura Janet Rundell died a few days after hearing of the death of her youngest son Reginald Charles.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Captain Reginald Charles Rundell, General List attd. 10th Trench Mortar Battery, died on 03/05/1917, age 22. Buried at Crump Trench British Cemetery, Fampoux, Pas de Calais. Son of Joseph W. E. and Laura Janet Rundell, of 117, Manners Rd., Southsea. B.Sc.
Reginald Rundell is remembered on a Family Gravestone in Highland Road Cemetery, the Southern Grammar School WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
April 2014