Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

It is known that many young men were so keen to join the army at the outbreak of the great war that they were prepared to lie about their age in order to qualify for enlistment. When this happened the inflated age went into the young man's army record making him more difficult to identify from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. One such person may have been William Edward Stone.
The CWGC has recorded an age of 23 years for William Edward when he died in 1917, which should mean that he was born in 1894. The record also gives William Edward's mother as Mrs G. Stone of 3 Hampton Court, Portsmouth. The only record from the 1911 census that fits the latter lists parents William and Georgina Stone with their four children at 1a East Street, Portsmouth. One of those children was William Edward Grant Stone but his age was only 13 years which would have made him 16 or 17 when the Great War broke out. He would have had to exaggerate his age by three years to fit with the CWGC record, which is quite a lot but not impossible.
If this is the correct person then he came from a largely itinerant family which may explain why few other definite sightings of him exist. His father William was listed as a street fish hawker in 1911 and the family were living in one of the poorest areas of Portsmouth. William Edward and his three siblings were all born in different places, from Lambeth to Ashford and Portsea to Winchester, all of which suggests a culture that a young man might want to escape from with some urgency.
If William Edward did sign up at the earliest possible moment then he would have joined in September 1914 as that was when the 1st Portsmouth Pals battalion was formed as the 14th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. They were given basic training until Spring 1915 when they were sent to the Western Front. Over the next few years they saw some of the heaviest fighting of the war, but oddly don't seem to have been involved in any serious campaign in October 1917 when William Edward lost his life.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Private William Edward Stone, (29751), 14th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, died 21/10/1917. Buried at the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (Grave Ref: XXV.J.20.). Son of Mrs. G. Stone, of 3, Hampton Court, St. Thomas's St., Portsmouth.
William Stone is commemorated on the Anglican Cathedral WW1 Memorial Cross and the Cenotaph. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Georgina's husband William died in Portsmouth in 1917 which explains why only her name appears on the CWGC record. She was also recorded as living at Hampton Court, off St. Thomas's Street, Old Portsmouth which was another desperately poor area of town no more than a short walk from the family's previous address at East Street.
Tim Backhouse
October 2014