In Memoriam: Gilbert Porteous

Photograph of Gilbert Porteous in uniform.
Gilbert Porteous.

Gilbert Porteous was killed in action in Palestine on 22nd November 2017, aged 23 years.

He was born at Glasgow in 1894 and attended Bootham School from 1908 to 1911.  Early on he had success in Fives, when he won the Double Handicap Competition.  When he left Bootham, the May 1911 edition of the school magazine “Bootham” included in the “Bene Decessit” section:

” G. PORTEOUS : Entered the school in September, 1908. He acted as secretary for the Junior Essay Society for some time, and made useful things in the workshop.”

In March 1916, “Bootham” reported that Gilbert had joined the Army, along with his brother John:

“Bootham School War Lists:

Under Military Discipline :—

Porteous, Gilbert, 9th Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Highlanders) .

Porteous, J. P., Second Lieut., 5th Scottish Rifles.”

In January 1917, Gilbert became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Scottish Rifles(Cameronians).

In June 1917, “Bootham” reported that:

 “SEC-LIEUT. G. PORTEOUS, Scottish Rifles, under orders for Egypt.

Then in December 1917, came the following:

“PORTEOUS.—In November, 1917, killed in action in Palestine, Gilbert Porteous (1908-11), of Lovedale, Newlands, Glasgow, aged 23 years.”

His “In Memoriam” entry in “Bootham” reads as follows:

“GILBERT PORTEUS (1908-11), Lieutenant in the – Bn. Cameronians, was killed in action at Metzpah, Palestine, on November 22nd, 1917, in his twenty-fourth year.

After leaving school he entered into business with his father, but after a short time had to take a more responsible position in the business owing to his father’s death.

In 1915 he answered the call of his country and joined the Glasgow Highlanders.  Later he received a Commission in the Cameronians, and in August, 1917, proceeded in charge of a draft of men to Palestine.

All his letters to his family were of the most cheery nature, and talked of “Après la guerre.”  Some extracts from his letters give a vivid description of life in Palestine:

In the Field, August 22nd, 1917.

It is very amusing really the way all the chaps here enquire from anyone arriving from home when is the war going to finish, looking, of course, for somebody else to do the washing-up.

In the Field, September 2nd, 1917.

As this quarter is covered with “dud” Turkey shells the souvenir hunters could have a rare “beano” – there are not many of this breed in the S.R.

An extract from his Chaplain’s letter regarding the attack in which he was killed says:

“But, alas! we had to pay a heavy price, and among the gallant lads we lost was your son.  He fell to a sniper’s bullet as he was leading his men at the top of the ridge.””

Second Lieutenant Gilbert Porteous is buried at the Jerusalem War Cemetery.