Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Despite the appearance of the names 'Arthur' and 'Wellesley' in the Sutton family history no connection with the Duke of Wellington has been discovered. In any case the use of these names was a fairly recent development for a family who had been living in Gosport since before 1841 when the first census was taken.
That first census showed William (a waterman) and Sarah Sutton in Gosport with their four children, the youngest of whom was Edward George Vokes Sutton (b. 1835), grandfather of John William. Edward married Charlotte Hannah Rowe in Portsea in 1859 but they continued to live in Gosport where their children Edward jnr. (b. 1861), Frances (b. 1863), William (b. 1870), Arthur (b. 1871) and Kate (b. 1874) were raised. Arthur, who would go on to become John William's father, has not been found in the 1891 census, presumably as by then he had joined the navy and was away at sea.
Arthur was still aboard ship for the 1901 census but we know that in the meantime he had married Ethel Kate Parks (b. 1873) in 1897, though the full marriage details have not been found. The couple do not appear to have found their own home during the first few years of marriage as the 1901 census shows Ethel Kate still living with her mother Henrietta Parks at 20 Victoria Road North, Southsea, along with her three older, unmarried, sisters Elizabeth, Hetty and Maud. They did however have their first child, John William (b. 1898) during this period.
By 1911 Arthur and Ethel had established themselves in their own home and it just happened to be next door to Ethel's mother at 22 Victoria Road North. Some reports suggest that Ethel's mother owned both houses but it's more likely that they would have been able to afford this spacious house on their own thanks to Arthur's rise through the ranks of the navy to Engineer Commander. The couple had three further children, Guy Wellesley (b. 1905), Elizabeth Rose (b. 1906) and Gordon (born 1909, died 1911) by the time of the census in 1911 when John William was absent, possibly at Wykeham Hall School, Lee-on-Solent.
Within a couple of years John William had transferred to Portsmouth Grammar School where he excelled at cricket and football. He left the school in 1914 and was passed medically fit to join the army which he did in December that year. He was posted to the Royal Garrison Artillery but we know little of his experiences there apart from being promoted to Second Lieutenant in February 1916 and earning the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry under fire in November 1916.
John William Wellesley Sutton was killed in action by poison gas on Friday 29th June 1917 in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, near Farbus Wood, Arras in France.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Second Lieutenant JWW Sutton, Royal Garrison Artillery attatched to the 28th Brigade Royal Field Artillery, died 29/06/1917, aged 19, awarded the Military Cross. Buried in Roclincourt Military Cemetery (Grave Ref: III.C.1.). Son of Arthur and Ethel Wellesley Sutton, of 48, Lee Park, Blackheath, London.
John Sutton is remembered on a Family Gravestone in Highland Road Cemetery, the WW1 Memorial at Portsmouth Grammar School and on the Cenotaph (as Sutton W.J.). He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
March 2014