Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War


When a boy spends his entire life surrounded by soldiers it is hardly surprising when he chooses to follow a military career himself. Such was the early life of Francis Squires who was probably born at Eastney Barracks in 1896 and lived there almost continuously until he left school in 1911.
His parents were James and Emma Squires, both of whom were born in Devon in 1862. They married in 1887 and raised their family of two girls and two boys at Eastney where James was a member of the Royal Marine Artillery. He was a Gunner in 1881, a Sergeant-Major in 1901 and 1911 and was later promoted to Major. The children were Winnifred (b. 1888), Alice (b. 1890), James Victor (b. 1892) and Francis William.

In 1909 Francis William began attending the Secondary School on Victoria Road North but remained there only two years during which time he was outstanding in games and sports, winning two cups as first and second Year Champion respectively, and captaining the team which won the Groves Shield, viz., 1B in 1910 and 2D in 1911. At the end of the Second Year's Course he passed the Civil Service Examination for Dockyard Apprentices and entered the Dockyard as a Shipwright Apprentice in 1911.
In April, 1915, he passed a competitive examination for entry as a Cadet in the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and received a commission in September, 1915, as 2nd Lieutenant in the Garrison Artillery.
After passing out first in an Artillery Course at Lydd he joined the 95th Siege Battery and went to France in May, 1916, straight to the Somme sector, where he served as Field Observation Officer in the Battery and as Liaison Officer during the Gommecourt offensive. He was killed at Guillemont by a shell on November 10th, 1916, at the early age of 20 years 2 months, and was buried about 300 yards north-east of Guillemont Church.
The Major of the 95th Siege Battery wrote of him:- "He always did his duty gallantly and well and was beloved alike by officers and men."
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 Second Lieutenant Francis William Squires, 95th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, died on 10/11/1916. Buried at Guillemont Road Cemetery (Grave Ref: III.K.3.). Native of Portsmouth. Son of Maj. James Squires (R.M.A.) and Mrs. Emma Squires, of "Markham," Fox Corner, Worplesdon, Surrey.
Francis Squires is 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