Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War


Tracking the family history of a WW1 casualty is made that much harder when the surname is subject to variation in spelling. In Herbert Thomas's case it changes from Scarbrough to Scarborough quite often but the latter is adopted here as that is the spelling on most census returns.
This history begins in 1842 when Thomas Scarborough is born in 1842 at Hartlepool, to parents Robert and Ann Scarborough. Both Robert and Thomas were ship's carpenters but Thomas was the only one that thought his prospects would be improved by a move to Portsmouth, which he accomplished by the early 1860s. It is quite probable that he obtained a job as a shipwright in the dockyard soon after his arrival because this bestowed in him the confidence to send for his fiancee Jane Williams who had been born at South Shields in 1842. They were married in Portsea in 1864 and the following year their first child Elizabeth was born.
According to the 1871 census the family were living at 23 Fyning Street, which they exchanged for No. 27 by 1881 and 14 Common Street in 1991. During this period the family grew by the addition of five more children including Thomas John (b. 1867) who would become Herbert Thomas's father.
Thomas John followed his father to become a shipwright in the dockyard. He married Susannah Honor Wills in Portsea in 1893. Susannah was born in 1866, the daughter of William Wills, a Corporation Carter of 2 Harold Road, Southsea. Thomas John and Susannah seem to have had only one child, Herbert Thomas Scarborough who between 1906 and 1911 attended the Secondary School at Victoria Road North.

A good scholar and sportsman, he took part in all the various activities of the School. By his pleasing manners and strong character he won the regard of masters and scholars. He matriculated before leaving. After being a Student Teacher in the town he went to Westminster Training College where he passed the Intermediate Science Examination.
A month after leaving College he voluntarily joined the Army in September, 1915. In the following February he was sent with the London Scottish to France and went into action for the first time in April. He was engaged right through the Battle of the Somme and was promoted on the field to Sergeant about July 1916. At Beaulieu Wood, on September 9th, he was in the first line trenches when the rifle shot of a sniper cut short his promising career at the age of 22. His place of burial has not been traced. His Commanding Officer describes him as a very efficient N.C.O. and as one who was much liked for both his conduct and efficiency. Thus he exhibited in the Army the same qualities which he had shown in school.
The photograph above was taken from a WW1 memorial booklet published by Southern Grammar School. Extracts also appear above.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Sergeant Herbert Thomas Scarborough (5216), London Regiment (London Scottish), died on 09/09/1916. Remembered on the Theipval Memorial (Pier and Face 9 C and 13 C.).
Herbert Scarborough is also remembered on the Southern Grammar School WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
June 2014