After the end of the First World War, the people of Portsmouth raised funds to erect a Cenotaph in memory of all of Portsmouth’s sons and daughters who died in between 1914 and 1918. Every name is listed, from A to Z.
But after the Second World , people were tired of war, and the will to erect a new memorial was just not there. This is how it remained for almost 60 years. The almost 3,380 people of Portsmouth who died between 1939 and 1947 have not been memorialised in their home city.
Mrs Jean Louth, whose father Harry Short died at Dunkirk, was horrified to discover this, and set about raising funds and awareness. The centrepiece of the memorial itself has been unveiled, in Portland stone, bearing the arms of Portsmouth and the three armed services, and the inscription ‘IN MEMORY OF THE SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN AND THE CITIZENS OF PORTSMOUTH WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN DEFENCE OF THEIR COUNTRY DURING WORLD WAR II’.
This, however, is only the start. There are plans to erect a memorial wall surrounding the centrepiece, which will be engraved with the names of those who gave their lives. As each name costs £30 to engrave, this will cost a fair bit.
Portsmouth City Council have published a list of portsmouth people who died during the second world war. It is very much a work in progress, with a lot of details missing and possibly incorrect.
Looking at the list got me thinking. As well as possibly filling in the gaps, would it be possible to use a database to compute and analyse these details? If I can add in details such as those you find on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s website, the picture is even more detailed. It would be possible to produce reports on average ages, where in the city they came from, in what units they fought, where they died. Some interesting stories should come to light. And hopefully, I can just do something to raise awareness of these brave people when there is a risk that they might become forgotten.
So far I am up to halfway through the B surnames, around 180 people. Its going to take quite sometime, and im still tweaking with the database, but hopefully over time it will be an interesting project!