Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Although the entire Tilbury family were born in Portsmouth there is no record of them in the census prior to 1891. When they do appear in 1891 they were living at 12 Playfair Road, Southsea and consisted of Robert William's father, Walter George (b. 1863), his mother Annie (nee Goodwin, b. 1862) and two older sisters, Ethel (b. 1889) and Jessica (b. 1891). Walter was then described as an outfitter's traveller.
By 1901 the family had moved to 87 Cottage Grove and grown by the addition of three more children, Robert William (b. 1892), Dorothy (b. 1894) and Herbert Walter (b. 1897). There were no further changes to the membership of the household for the 1911 census but interestingly all three daughters were described as 'Technical Students'. The family's address was 63 Victoria Road South which was an eight roomed house in a respectable area. As Walter was now an outfitter he must have been working in an up-market shop to be able to afford the accommodation, perhaps a military outfitters.
At the outbreak of the Great War Robert William was 22 years old and may well have enlisted in the first wave of enthusiasm. Unfortunately nothing is known of his early military career but at some stage he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. Again, we know nothing of his experiences in the air force apart from the fact that he died in March 1918, probably in Portsmouth, as that is where he is buried.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list 2nd Lieutenant Robert William Tilbury, 95th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, died 18/03/1918, aged 26 years. He is buried at Highland Road Cemetery, Portsmouth, (Grave Ref: Horan Div. A.1.15.).
Robert Tilbury is remembered on the (Former) Circus Church WW1 Memorial, the St. Simon's Church WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Robert Tilbury's name appears on both the Circus Church and St. Simon's Church memorials and in both cases it is accompanied by the name HW Tilbury. It is odd that any name should appear on different church memorials, especially when they are in such distant locations, but to have two with the same surname suggests that they were brothers and indeed Herbert Walter Tilbury was the brother of Robert William. It seems therefore that Walter and Annie Tilbury lost both their sons in the Great War.
Tim Backhouse
February 2014