Private James Percival PORTER


Regiment/Service:
Grenadier Guards
Unit:
4th Battalion
Service Number:
5459
Date of Death:
26 September 1916 -
"Died from wounds received in action" (Buxton Advertiser)
Age:
29
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
I. E. 33.




Personal History:

James was born in the March quarter 1887, the son of John Thomas (Limestone Quarryman) and Emily Anne (née Slade) Porter. In 1891 (Census RG 12/2781) the family were living at 6 Lower Bibbington, Wormhill, Buxton. James had an older brother, John Sydney, and a younger brother, Herbert Henry.

In 1901 (Census RG 13/3273) the family were at the same address, and another brother, Charles Eli, had been born, but James' mother, Emma, had died at some time after 1892.
The family remained in Lower Bibbington, and by 1911 (Census RG 14/21264) James and his
brothers were all working with their father in the Limestone Quarry (Probably 'Perseverance
Quarry' owned by Samuel Bibbington.)

In the December quarter 1912 James married Edith Bowder and they lived at Dove Holes
where he was employed by Bibbington and Sons. They had two sons, John, born in the March
quarter 1913, and James, born a year later. ('Buxton Advertiser' 7th October 1916)

After James enlisted Edith and the two boys moved to live at 7 Alma Street, Buxton.
(Later she moved to 4 Longden Square, Spring Gardens, Buxton.)

Military History:
James enlisted in the 4th Battalion the Grenadier Guards at Buxton and although his service records do not appear to have survived, his Service Number suggests he joined in mid-November 1915. His Medal Index Card gives no date for his entry into overseas service, and as he was not eligible for the 1914-15 Star was not posted abroad until after the 31st December 1915.

The 4th Battalion had been formed at Marlow and moved to France on the 14th July 1915. On the 19th August 1915 it came under the command of the 3rd Guards Brigade, Guards Division. James clearly then was posted to his Battalion as a replacement or reinforcement. When reporting his death on the 7th October 1916, 'The Buxton Advertiser' stated that: "... he had been out in France for six months and had been several of the big battles." so suggesting he had been posted in March 1916.

The "big battles" referred to above were undoubtedly The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, 15th - 22nd September 1916, and The Battle of Morval, 25th - 28th September 1916, both phases of the Battles of the Somme. James' 4th Battalion had arrived at  Halloy on the 30th July 1916 and were billeted at camps at Arqueves and Mailly-Maillet, before taking over the line in the Beaumont -Hamel sector. The Battalion entrained for Mericourt on the 25th August and from there to Ville-sous-Corbie and on to Carnoy on the 8th September.

On the 12th September the Battalion were in support of a failed attack on The Quadrilateral before being relieved and to Happy Valley. The Division moved to Carnoy and from there to the copse on the eastern side of Trones Wood. On the 15th they attacked towards Lesbceufs from reserve and advanced on the right passing over first objective.

The Regimental history notes heaps of dead Germans as evidence of recent fighting. The Battalion dug in 500 yards north of Ginchy and consolidated gains. It was in support of an attack on the 16th September they withdrew to Carnoy during the evening. They were back in front of Lesbceufs on the 20th, digging communication and assembly trenches for the forthcoming attack.

James' Battalion was relieved and retired to Bernafay Wood two days later, but moved forward again on the 24th. At 12.35 p.m. the following day the Battalion attacked, and the Regimental history notes over 150 Germans killed with the bayonet before rushing on to clear the first objective. Their second objective was also taken before being relieved at 10.00 p.m. and moved back to Carnoy.

James died of wounds on the 26th September, one of his Battalion's 458 casualties since the 18th September. He is buried in Grove Town Cemetery, and would have been taken there after being evacuated from the field. In September 1916, the 34th and 2/2nd London Casualty Clearing Stations were established there, known to the troops as Grove Town, to deal with casualties from the Somme battlefields. It is most likely that James died in one of these Casualty Clearing Stations.

Footnotes:
· Three other Buxton boys served with James in the 11th Battalion: L/Cpl G4866 Harry SELLORS Killed in Action on the 3 March 1916,
   Pt. John RAWLINSON - Killed in Action on the 18 October 1915, and L/Cpl G/17567 Arthur PHILLIPS was Killed in Action on the 31st May 1917

Sources:
· 'The Buxton Advertiser' - 7 October 1916
· "British Battalions on the Somme" - Ray Westlake [ISBN-10: 0850523745] p. 2
                                                                   
Link to CWGC Record
Guardsman James Porter's grave
Lower Bibbington Cottages
Lower Bibbington Cottages, across from the Quarry spoil tip
poppy