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Tattingstone remembers ...Arthur Edward Porter
20 March 1898 -5 April 1918
by Jane Kirk - Village Recorder
Arthur Edward Porter was the 14th and last but one man from Tattingstone to lose his life in the Great War. Like several of the others, he was born and raised here; both his parents, Walter and Amelia, came from the village, marrying in St Mary’s and living near the Chapel. Arthur was their fifth and youngest child. Walter was the parish roadman for the County Council (oh for our own dedicated roadman these days). He went to the National School in the village and had a part time job as a grocer’s errand boy before his first full time employment at Tattingstone Hall Farm.
The 1911 census shows Arthur living with his parents and elder brother at Chapel House, his three elder sisters had all left home by then. However, also living with them is Grandma Hunt, his maternal grandmother, who is listed as being feeble minded. What came as a surprise was that the census states the age at which she’d become afflicted as two years old. Checking out the definition of feeble minded at the time and in the context of the census, it had become a kinder less derogatory term than idiot – just going to show that political correctness is not such a new trend.
Arthur was among the last to enlist under the voluntary scheme in March 1916 and he was a Gunner in C Battery 330th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. As to his death the only information available is that he died of wounds in Abbeville General Hospital so no way of knowing for instance how long he’d been in hospital, what battle he had been fighting in or indeed where and how he was wounded. During the Great War Abbeville was the headquarters of the communication unit of the Commonwealth forces and there were three main hospitals there so it must have been a nucleus for medical care in the area, which unfortunately gives us no clues. Arthur was buried in Abbeville Communal Cemetery, Somme.
As for being in the artillery, a noted WW1 historian John Terraine said “The war of 1914-18 was an artillery war: artillery was the battle-winner, artillery was what caused the greatest loss of life, the most dreadful wounds, and the deepest fear”.
Having got to number fourteen in this series of tributes, it is probably not surprising that there is little “new” to write about and in fact it would appear that I’m not the only one stretched for what to say about Arthur because the tribute to him in the Liber Vitae is brief and shorter than the others.
However with Arthur’s story I feel that despite the lack of new material, interesting leads, or back stories there is a sense of the ordinary which in itself is very relevant and important. For in WW1 hundreds of thousands of men like Arthur or “Tommy”, as the common soldier was referred to as a mark of affection and respect for bravery and heroism, gave their lives “all in a day’s work”. And equally Arthur would have been just as deeply mourned by his family and friends and the people of Tattingstone as all the thirteen men before him.