Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The Census records indicate the presence of several families with the name of Samphier in Portsmouth going back to at least 1850, with a small concentration in the Rudmore area. William George's branch may not have originated in Portsmouth as his grandfather George was born in Alverstoke, Gosport around 1835 and did not move to Portsmouth until the 1860s.
In the 1871 Census George, his wife Charlotte and 6 children were living on Kingston Road. The youngest of the children was Alfred who was to become the father of William George Samphier, but not until he had married Lavinia and changed address on at least two occasions before 1901 when they were at 17 Bedford Street.
William George was born in 1899 and was the fourth of ten children born to Alfred and Lavinia. The family finally made it Rudmore in time for the 1911 Census when they were recorded as living at 14 Garibaldi Street.
At the outbreak of the Great War William George was only 15 years of age and, unless he lied about this age. couldn't have enlisted until somewhat later. Whenever he did so he joined the 2nd Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. His service record is unknown apart from the fact he died on 23rd April 1917.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Private William George Samphier, (20399), died on 23/04/1917, 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Arras Memorial (Bay 6). Husband of A. E. Millard (formerly Samphier) of 4, Tipnor St., Stamshaw, Portsmouth.
William Samphier is remembered on the St. John the Baptist Church WW1 memorial. The memorial was transferred to St. Agatha's Church, Market Way when St. John's* was declared redundant in 1980. Also remembered on the Cenotaph and the National Roll, Section X, p200. The entry in the latter is slightly confusing as it mixes details of the lives of two persons of the same name - see below.
Tim Backhouse
January 2014

*St. John the Baptist's Church was on Simpson Road, just north of the junction between Twyford Avenue and the Rudmore roundabout. It was converted to private accommodation.
There are a number of anomalies in the records relating to William George Samphier which make it difficult to be absolutely sure his family and service histories are as related above. This is largely because there were two soldiers called William Samphier on the St. John's Memorial, both of whom lived in Rudmore. The National Roll has managed to conflate details of the two men. For instance, it credits William George as being a member of the Machine Gun Corps and gives the date of death as 20th September 1917, but these details definitely relate to the second William. It gets the address (14 Garibaldi Street) correct.
The CWGC may also be in error as there is no record of either William marrying anyone, let alone with the initials A.E., indeed the William we are interested in was only just 18 years of age when he died and so would hardly have had time to get married.
The Cenotaph only lists one person by the name of Samphier W.G. The same name also appears on the memorial erected to The Men of the Portsea Island Gas Light Company which is situated in Guildhall Square. In neither case do we know to which man the memorial refers.