Private Harry PORTER

Duke of Cambridge's Own
(Middlesex Regiment)
13th Battalion
Service Number:
Date of Death:
28 September 1915 - Killed in Action
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 99 to 101.

Personal History:

Harry was born in the September quarter 1894, son of Percival (Joiner) and Harriett Porter, of 17 New Market Street, Buxton. He had four older brothers and sisters, Percy, Martha, Herbert Oliver and Lily, and two younger brothers, Lewis Arthur and John (1901 Census RG 13/3269) (Brother Percy was also killed in action, serving with the 11th Battalion, on 26th July 1915).

In 1911 (Census RG 14/21242) 19 year old Harry was still at home - same address - and working as a "Butcher". He had another younger sister by then, Ethel Annie. After the War the family moved to 2 Mill Cliff, Buxton.

Military History:
Harry enlisted in the 13th (Service) Battalion at Buxton and his service records do not appear to have survived. His Medal Index Card shows that Harry was posted to France on the 1st September 1915. [Comparison with other men in the Regiment with similar Service Numbers suggests that Harry would have enlisted around 11th/12th May 1915]

The 13th (Service) Battalion had been formed at Mill Hill in September 1914 as part of K3 (Kitchener's Third New Army of 100,000 men) and attached to the 73rd Brigade, 24th Division. They moved to the South Downs and went to billets in Hove in December 1914 and then on to Shoreham in May 1915 and Pirbright in June. Final training took place at Aldershot from the 19th - 23rd June. Lord Kitchener inspected the Division at Chobham ranges on the 19th August and on the 20th it was inspected by King George V.

The Battalion received orders on the 19th August to move to France and the 13th Battalion, including Harry, embarked on the 1st September 1915, landing at Boulogne the following day.  The Division completed its concentration in the area between Etaples and St Pol by the 4th September.

Having been in France for just a few days, Harry and his Battalion underwent lengthy forced marches to bring it into the reserve for the British assault at Loos. It was too far behind the lines to be a useful reinforcement on the first day, but it was sent into action on the 26th September, when the Division suffered 4178 casualties with very little ground being gained.

The 13th Battalion War Diary shows that on the 26th and 27th September 1915 it was in advanced trenches near Vermelles, but under shellfire from the enemy "... which had found out the exact range of the occupied trenches ...", necessitating the Companies having to move trenches often. About 5.00 p.m. on the 27th the Germans launched "... a heavy attack on the left ... which was repulsed by men of various regiments...".  "Throughout Monday night these attacks were constantly repeated, but in every case were successfully met.

28/9/15 - About 8.00 a.m. the Battalion was relieved and received orders to withdraw - which it did by BART'S ALLEY. After a short rest, it marched through VERMELLES to SAILLY-LABOURSE, where it was visited by Major General J. Ramsey, Commanding 24th Division, who warmly congratulated the Battalion on the work it had done."

At 8.30 p.m. that evening the Battalion was paraded and " mustered 606 of all ranks. In pouring rain it marched to the NOEUX-les-MINES, about 3 miles, and was entrained about 12 .0 midnight and arrived at BERGUETTE STATION about 2.00 a.m. Wandering about in the dark it reached its billets about 5.00 a.m. at FONTES."

The "FIRST CASUALTY RETURN from Sept. 25th - 29th" recorded 13 other ranks killed; 7 Officers and 77 O.R.s wounded and 1 Officer and 70 O.R.s missing. This turned out to be a rather optimistic assessment, however, as the CWGC records show that Harry was one of the 1 Officer (Capt. Charles Edward HILL - previously reported missing) and 37 men killed in action on the 28th September.

All, like Harry, have no known grave and are commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

· Harry's brother, L/Cpl Percy PORTER, died of wounds, serving with the 11th Battalion, on 26th July 1915.

· Another Buxton man, Pt. G/4860 Arthur Edward WILLIAMSON, of the same Battalion as Harry, was killed in action on the same day.

· I am grateful to Colin Taylor for the War Diary extract.
Link to CWGC Record
The Loos Memorial
Harry Porter's name on the Memorial