Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Plainly there are no good days to die but losing one's life on the very day the war ends is poignant and sad. Such was the fate of Alfred Tilley.
Tracing Alfred's family is made more difficult by his father Thomas's absence from all but one of the census returns between his birth at Portsmouth in 1859 and 1911. The only sighting of Thomas was in 1871 when as a 12 year old he was aboard his father's vessel 'Myrtle' in Portsmouth Harbour in the company of his mother Eliza and four younger siblings. Thomas went on to follow his father, also called Thomas, into a life as a seaman.
In 1880 Thomas married Fanny Farndell who had been born at Emsworth, probably in 1853, and, leaving his new wife at home with his mother Eliza at 15 Warwick Street he returned to sea. In the 1881 census Fanny gave her age as 21 years which would give a birthdate around 1860, rather than 1853, but a later census would show she was not above altering her age as she saw fit. The next two censuses saw the family move first to 4 Elm Grove, Southsea and then to 15 Cecil Grove and though in both instances Thomas was absent, presumably at sea, their three children did appear - Caroline (b. 1879), Thomas (b. 1883) and Alfred Ernest (b. 1887). In the 1901 census Fanny declared her age as 32 which was obviously a fiction as it would have made her 11 years of age when she married Thomas.
None of the family appears in the 1911 census, but by then Alfred Ernest must have enlisted in the army and been posted to the Royal Field Artillery. It's not known what actions he saw during the Great War but he must have served bravely as he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. It is especially ironic that he served for the full duration of the war, only to die on Armistice Day.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Sergeant AE Tilley, D.C.M., (74125), Royal Field Artillery, died 11/11/1918. Buried at the St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen (Grave Ref: S.II.GG.17.). Son of Thomas Edward Tilley.
Alfred Tilley 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.
The electoral roll for 1915 shows that the Tilley family were living at 10 Highbury Street which would explain why Alfred's name appears on the Cathedral memorial.
Tim Backhouse
October 2014
With thanks to Cynthia Sherwood