Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The circumstances of Leonard Shepherd's birth are difficult to trace, partly because he was probably born Leonard Williams, at least that is the name by which he appears in the 1901 Census when he was described as the step-son of James and Amelia Shepherd. In that year the family, which included 7 children, were living at 22 Gruneisen Road, off Twyford Avenue in Stamshaw.
In 1911 the Census shows the family had moved to 15 School Lane, Buckland, north of Sultan Road. By this time all the children were recorded with Shepherd as the surname.
Leonard Shepherd enlisted in the army in November 1915, shortly before conscription was introduced. Six months later he was posted to the Western Front where he took part in Battles at the Somme and Ypres. He received serious injuries on 9th January 1918 and died in hospital at Wimereux three days later. Although he died at Wimereux he would have received his injuries elsewhere and transported to this central hospital.
Leonard's brother Reginald, who volunteered in September 1914, was killed in September 1916.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Private Leonard Shepherd (21623), 14th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, died 12/01/1918. Buried in the Wimereux Communal Cemetery, (Grave Ref: VIII.C.1A).
Leonard Shepherd is remembered on the All Saints Church WW1 memorial, the Buckland United Reformed Church WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X, Page 207.
Research Notes
The Census for 1911 lists Leonard Shepherd, aged 16, living in the family home at 15 School Lane, but the 1901 Census gives his surname as Williams and describe his status as 'step son'. Leonard had five older siblings all of whom shared the same surname and status. Nominally his parents were James (b.1838) and Amelia (b. 1860) Shepherd who appear in both Censuses. In such circumstances we would normally conclude that Amelia was his mother and that she had previously been known as Williams (as either a wife or a single woman) before marrying James Shepherd, but it's not quite as simple as that.
In the 1911 Census James and Amelia declared that they had been married for 34 years, just long enough to allow for their 33 year old son John to have been born in wedlock but this would seem to have been a fiction as the marriage registers show no one with their names getting married around 1877. Indeed there are only two instances of a James Shepherd marrying an Amelia between 1877 and 1911, one in 1889 and one in 1890, but in neither case was Amelia's name Williams. She could of course have used her maiden name in which case the two known examples would suggest it was Brewer or Bassett. So there is a distinct possibility that they did not get married at all but at some point decided to make out that they were. This though must have been a two stage process as in 1896 they had a son whom they named Reginald Shepherd and declared him as such in 1901. The renaming of their other children happened between 1901 and 1911.
Tim Backhouse
January 2014