Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The Tonkin family did not arrive in Portsmouth until 1892/3 when William Richard's father, William James Tonkin took up a post with the military police at HM Dockyard. As he was listed as a sergeant in 1901 and had come from Gillingham he was probably already serving with the force when he transferred.
William James had been born at Redruth in Cornwall in 1859 and had married Fanny Baldwin at Strood in 1888. Fanny, who appears in later census records as Emily F. Tonkin, had been born in Strood in 1860. The couple had one child, William Richard (b. 1891) whilst living at Gillingham and another, Thomas (b. 1893) after moving to Portsmouth. Their first address was, according to the 1901 census, 2 Pitt Street but by 1911 they had moved to 102 Hampshire Street.
The 1911 census indicates that William James had retired from the police and was working as a labourer in the Dockyard alongside his son William Richard who was employed as a storehouse boy. At the outbreak of the Great War William Richard was 22 years old but he did not volunteer for the army until Frebruary 1916 when he was posted to the Wiltshire Regiment, probably to help make up numbers lost in battle. He arrived on the Western Front in June 1916 and took part in fierce fighting at the Somme where he lost his life on 6th July.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Lance Corporal William Richard Tonkin (24473), 1st Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, died 06/07/1916. Buried at Lonsdale Cemetery (Grave Ref: III.G.5.).
William Tonkin is commemorated on the Buckland United Reformed Church WW1 Memorial, the St. Wilfrid's Church WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X, p379.
Tim Backhouse
December 2014