World War 2 Soldier - Private Walter Renwick David Porter 1917-1940

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Walter Renwick David Porter
Walter Renwick David Porter

Private Walter Renwick David Porter was born on 1st March 1917, the son of Walter Renwick and Harriet (nee Bartlett) Porter.

Walter and Harriet were both from Somerset and were married in 1903 in Taunton. By 1911, Walter was working on the Bute Estate in Llandaff working as a woodcutter and they had three children, James (1904), Dorothy (1908), and Irene (1909). Two further children were born in Wales, Hilda in 1912 and Elsie in 1914. The family then moved to England and the birth of Walter Renwick David Porter in 1917 was registered in the Thornbury district. In 1919, they were living in Rockhampton and by about 1923 had moved to Moorend. The family expanded with Clifford Arthur (1920), William John (1923), Beatrice Francis (1924) and Barbara Josephine (1928).

Walter Renwick David was baptised in Slimbridge Church in 1928 along with Elsie and Clifford.

David became a porter on the railway and worked at Ashchurch station in Worcestershire. He lodged with a family who lived in the nearby railway cottages and it was here that he met his future wife, Eileen Rosina White. Eileen was a friend of the daughter of the family he was lodging with, and she lived at nearby Bredon where her father was a coal merchant.

David and Eileen married on 21st May 1939. David belonged to the territorials and was called up to serve when the war started, joining the 5th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment (Infantry division). Service No. 5183562.

The 1939 Register shows that after her marriage, Eileen was living with her parents in Railway Cottages, Bredon. David and Eileen’s daughter, Norma, was born in December 1939. David was home on leave for Christmas and so was present when Norma was baptised at Bredon on 31st December. In 1939 David’s parents were at Moorend, with his sister, Irene, managing a fruit and vegetable shop. Clifford was working as a farm carter and William was a timekeeper at Quedgeley munitions factory. Irene married at Slimbridge church in April 1940, just five weeks before her brother was killed.

David was 23 years old when he was killed on 20th May 1940 near Bruyelle, as the 5th battalion engaged in battle on the line of the river Scheldt (Escaut), before the final withdrawal to Dunkirk ahead of the German advance. The battalion had had a gruelling time, providing the rearguard action in the withdrawal. Benjamin King (a private in the 5th Gloucesters) recalled;

When we were given orders to retreat, we travelled with the Intelligence Officers, to protect them as we were infantry. We stayed with them almost into Dunkirk. In this retreat I covered over 90 miles with a Bren Gun, crawling through ditches. The unit had split up and gone. The 5th Gloucester’s were the rear guard with other regiments, the 2nd Gloucester’s were also rear guard action. 5186379 Private Benjamin King of 5th Gloucesters in the BBC WW2 archive

In describing the action on 20 May, the Company War Diary says the men had travelled 95 miles in the previous 83 hours.

David Porter is buried at the Bruyelle War Cemetery, six kilometres south of Tournai in Belgium, and is commemorated on the Gloucester war memorial, at Bredon and at Slimbridge.

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