04 August 2015

William Portway

This is one of the the most touching stories that I can remember.

Completely out of the blue I recently received an email from an RMC classmate of mine who now works at a local primary school. As part of a Centenary of Anzac school project one of her students was researching a WWI soldier because he had found a medal in a house he used to live in. The student's name is Ben and through my friend, sent me with all the service details.
The soldier was 484 William Charles Portway. Prior to WWI he had served 12 years in the Northumberland Fusiliers. This experience meant he was promoted to Sergeant while serving at Gallipoli. By 1916 William was fighting in France, had been commissioned and was wounded in action.
William's son was Bruce who served in the RAN during WWII. After the war, Bruce and his family moved to Canberra and lived in the suburb of Campbell.
That is where Ben comes in to the story. In a cupboard Ben found William's 1914 - 15 Star which he wanted to return to the family. My classmate gave me a letter that Ben wrote and I was able to trace William's grand son, Don, up until 1980 but I then lost the thread. However, with a rather unusual surname, there was a small number of possible options to choose from and try to contact. I took a punt on one listing and found Don..
A lovely turn of events it that Don will be in Canberra next week and there are tentative plans for him to meet Ben and receive the medal.
I can't express how impressed I am with Ben and his efforts to see this medal back with the family. I'll quote just a short part of his letter: 'I would like to return it because I feel his family would like it'.

The returned medal tally is now 1704.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Ben. Like William Portway you and Glyn do your country proud.