Lance Corporal Percy PORTER


Regiment/Service:
Duke of Cambridge's Own
(Middlesex Regiment)
Unit:
11th Battalion
Service Number:
5459
Date of Death:
26 July 1915 - Died of wounds
Age:
23
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
IX. A. 1.




Personal History:

Percy was born in the December quarter 1891, son of Percival (Joiner) and Harriett Porter, of 17 New Market Street, Buxton. He had three older brothers and sisters, Martha, Herbert Oliver and Lily, and three younger brothers, Harry, Lewis Arthur and John (1901 Census RG 13/3269) (Brother Harry was also killed in action, serving with the 13th Battalion, on 28th September 1915 - see Footnote below)
In 1911 (Census RG 14/21242) 19 year old Percy was still at home - same address - and working as a "Butcher". He had another younger sister by then, Ethel Annie. By 1915 the family had moved to 2 Mill Cliff, Buxton.

Military History:
Percy enlisted in the 11th (Service) Battalion at Buxton and his service records do not appear to have survived.

The Battalion had been formed at Mill Hill as a result of Army Order No. 324, issued on 21st August 1914, as part of Kitchener's 1st New Army and attached to 36th Brigade in 12th (Eastern) Division. It moved to Colchester, going on to Shorncliffe in November and in February 1915 went into Ramillies Barracks at Aldershot. Percy's Medal Index Card shows that he sailed for France with the Battalion from Folkestone onboard the SS Princess Victoria, arriving on the next day, the 31st May 1915 (the Division moved en masse in a three day period)

After two days rest near Boulogne, the Battalion moved to concentrate near St Omer. The 11th Middlesex moved by train to Arques on the 2nd June and then on to billets at Gondardenne. Percy moved towards the front via Hazebrouck on the 5th June, Noote Boom on the 6th and Armentières four days later, where he began front line training under the19th Brigade, 27th Division.

On the 23rd June 1915 Percy's Division took over a sector of the front line for the first time, at Ploegsteert Wood, relieving the 8th Battalion, The Worcester Regiment (46th [North Midland] Division). They stayed just two days being relieved at midnight on the 27th, moving back to Oosthoove Farm.

By the 15th July the Divisional front had extended south to reach east of Armentieres and was holding 7000 yards of front-line trenches. In just holding this relatively quiet sector, in July alone, the Division suffered the loss of 7 officers and 64 men killed, 18 officers and 413 men wounded.

The Battalion War Diary for the 25th and 26th July recorded: "Day fairly quiet. Enemy's machine gun located by night in a loophole opposite 'D' Coy was silenced." and "Day fine. 2 other ranks wounded." respectively. It is possible that Percy was one of these wounded men and subsequently died of his wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station. The other Diary entries tell of raiding parties going out and throwing bombs into enemy trenches. (Unusually, for many War Diaries, the writer names the NCOs and Privates who made these raids - but NOT the names of the wounded!) However, a letter subsequently received by his mother - see below - throws more light on Percy's activities which might account for the circumstances leading to him receiving wounds from which he died.

Percy was one of 12 men (one Officer and 11 other ranks) killed or died in July from his Battalion. Records show that they fell in single events, perhaps from shelling or sniping, rather than as a result of a particular offensive or defensive action. He is buried in Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery which used by field ambulances and fighting units (particularly the 4th, 6th, 21st, New Zealand, 17th and 57th (West Lancashire) Divisions and the Australian Corps) until April 1918.

On the 7th August 1915 'The Buxton Advertiser' re-printed a letter received by Percy's family from Lt. Harold Peploe, 'O.C. Snipers 11th Mdx.' [see Footnote below] and dated 29 July 1915, which read:

"Please allow me to say how sorry I am that your son has been killed. He was in charge of the snipers of his Company and has always done very good work. He was very keen, and I can only attribute his death to an excess of zeal.

He was a very popular Lance-Corporal, like by Officers and men alike. He has been buried here in France, and a little cross placed by the Chaplain over his grave. May he be granted eternal rest is the prayer of all."


Footnote:
· Percy's brother, Private Harry PORTER, was killed in action, serving with the 13th Battalion, on 28th September 1915.

· Captain (Temp. Lt.- Col.) Harold Peploe finished the War Commanding the 6th Bn., Royal West Kent Regiment, and was awarded the D.S.O.
   "For distinguished service in connection with military operations in France and Flanders" [London Gazette, 3 June 1919]
   He was also Mentioned in Despatches four times.

· Three other two Buxton boys of the 11th Battalion who served with John were L/Cpl Percy PORTER who Died of wounds on the 26 July 1915, and
   L/Cpl G4866 Harry SELLORS Killed in Action on the 3 March 1916, and L/Cpl G/17567 Arthur PHILLIPS who was Killed in Action on 31st May
  1917

Sources:
· 'The Buxton Advertiser' 7 August 1915
· I am grateful to Colin Taylor for the War Diary extracts
· I am grateful to The War Graves Photographic Project for the photo of Percy's grave
                                                                   
Link to CWGC Record
Percy Porter's grave
L/Cpl. Percy Porter
poppy