Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The grounds for a WW1 casualty qualifying as a 'Man of Portsmouth' could sometimes be exceedingly slender. In the case of James Welch it appears to be based solely on his membership of the choir at St. Thomas's Church (Portsmouth Cathedral) as he seems to have been born and raised in Gosport. He did join the Royal Marine Light Infantry which would have had strong ties with the RM Artillery at Eastney but the RMLI Barracks were at Forton, Gosport until after the war.
William Welch, James John's father, was born at Gosport in 1858 and married Katherine Wingate there in 1880. The couple had four children of whom James John was the second born. William was in the Royal Navy during James John's early life which probably explains how he was able to send his son to school at the Royal Hospital School in Greenwich. When he retired from the navy William returned to Gosport but by that time James John had already joined the RMLI and by 1911 he had been promoted to Corporal. A further promotion to Colour Sergeant followed around the time that the Great War broke out.
The RMLI spent the early months of the war on the Western Front before being shipped to Egypt in preparation for the invasion of Gallipoli. It seems likely that James John was wounded in fighting on the peninsula and transported back to Alexandria where he died in July 1915.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Colour Sergeant James John Welch (PO/12543), Royal Marine Light Infantry, died 28/07/1915, aged 27. Buried at the Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery (Grave Ref: J.160.). Son of K. Welch, of 19, Carlyle Rd., Gosport, Hants, and the late William Welch.
James Welch is commemorated on the Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral WW1 Memorial Cross and the Cenotaph. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Tim Backhouse
October 2014