Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Although he is not named on the Guildhall Cenotaph, John William Tidnam certainly had a good connection to Portsmouth, as not only did he live in Southsea but also for a few years in Farlington.
He came from a family with a tendency to move from one location to another, an early reference being in the 1891 census when they were living at Hunstanton in Norfolk. There, John William's father William Tidnam (b. 1854) was a pub landlord at the Le Strange Arms with his wife Harriet Ann Damaris (b. 1857) and their children Alice, Jessie, Ellen, Harriet and the youngest child John William.
By 1901 and for no obvious reason the family had moved to Southsea where William and Harriet were running a lodging house at 45 South Parade, a prime location next to the beach and close to Southsea railway station which should have provided a lucrative income given that Southsea was welcoming a lot of holidaymakers at that time. Nevertheless, the 1911 census reports Harriett and her son John William were living at Lower Farlington Farm with Harriet Jnr. and her husband Maurice Hill. There is no record of William in the UK in that year, but Harriet declared she was still married, though mysteriously she said she had only given birth to two children.
Sometime over the next couple of years John William must have emigrated to Canada as after the outbreak of the Great War he returned to fight with the Canadian Infantry. As he was in the 2nd Battalion (Eastern Ontario Regiment) he must have enlisted before October 1914 as that was the date the Battalion sailed for Europe aboard SS Cassandra. Their first major engagement was at the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915 followed by the Battle of Festubert (May 1915). John Tidnam didn't see much more fighting as he was killed on 8th August 1915.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Private John William Tidnam, Canadian Infantry, died on 08/08/1915, aged 26. Buried at the Strand Military Cemetery, Hainaut, Belgium (Grave Ref: IX. I.1.). Son of Mrs. H. A. D. Tidnam, of 4, St. Thomas' Square, Newport, Isle of Wight, and the late Mr. W. S. Tidnam.
John Tidnam is remembered on the WW1 Memorial at St. Andrew's Church, Farlington, on a personal plaque in St. Andrew's Church but not on the Cenotaph or in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
May 2014