OW Patrick Anthony Porteous Victoria Cross Anniversary

19 August 2018

19th August marks the anniversary of the action for which Patrick Anthony Porteous, OW, was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1942.

Patrick was in the Beresford 1931-35. He became a school Prefect, played in the 1st XV and was a successful swimmer. On leaving College he went to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, was commissioned in the Royal Artillery, and served in France from 1939. After being evacuated at Dunkirk, he joined a Commando unit, with whom he took part in the controversial and unsuccessful Dieppe raid in 1942. It was during this that the action took place for which he was awarded the VC. His citation reads:

At Dieppe on the 19th August, 1942, Major Porteous was detailed to act as Liaison Officer between the two detachments whose task was to assault the heavy coast defence guns.

In the initial assault Major Porteous, working with the smaller of the two detachments, was shot at close range through the hand, the bullet passing through his palm and entering his upper arm. Undaunted, Major Porteous closed with his assailant, succeeded in disarming him and killed him with his own bayonet thereby saving the life of a British Sergeant on whom the German had turned his aim.

In the meantime the larger detachment was held up, and the officer leading this detachment was killed and the Troop Sergeant-Major fell seriously wounded. Almost immediately afterwards the only other officer of the detachment was also killed.

Major Porteous, without hesitation and in the face of a withering fire, dashed across the open ground to take over the command of this detachment. Rallying them, he led them in a charge which carried the German position at the point of the bayonet, and was severely wounded for the second time. Though shot through the thigh he continued to the final objective where he eventually collapsed from loss of blood after the last of the guns had been destroyed.

Major Porteous’s most gallant conduct, his brilliant leadership and tenacious devotion to a duty which was supplementary to the role originally assigned to him, was an inspiration to the whole detachment.

In spite of severe wounds, Porteous went on to make a full recovery and had a distinguished military career. He is commemorated at Wellington in two ways: our Low Ropes Course is known as the Porteous Copse, while the Porteous Plate is awarded annually to the cadet or cadets who display the highest levels of ‘sense of duty’ during their service with the CCF.

The photographs show him in uniform, and as a member of the First XV in 1935.