Great Gunners & Battles


Temp. Major (Colonel) Patrick Porteous VC

No. 4 Commando Royal Artillery

Victoria Cross Date of Action – 19 August 1942

Place of Action – Dieppe, France

The London Gazette, 2 October 1942

Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of The VICTORIA CROSS to: —

Captain (temporary Major) Patrick Anthony Porteous (73033), Royal Regiment of Artillery (Fleet, Hants.).

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.


Biographical note:

Medal Group: Victoria Cross, 1939-45 Star, France & Germany Star, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, General Service Medal 1918-62 with Palestine & Malaya clasps, Coronation Medal Elizabeth II, Silver Jubilee Medal Elizabeth II.

Location of VC: Privately held.

Born: 1 January 1918, Abbottabad, British India

Died: 9 October 2000


Age at death: 82

Where buried: St May's Churchyard, Funtington.

The son of an Indian Army brigadier general, Porteous was born at Abbottabad on the North-west frontier. Educated at Wellington, he entered the Royal Military Academy Woolwich and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1937. He served with the British Expeditionary Force in France, was evacuated from Dunkirk and joined No 4 Commando in late 1940. Following the Dieppe Raid, he was second in command of No 4 Commando when it landed in Normandy on June 6 1944.

Porteous's post-war career included service in Palestine, Germany and Singapore. Colonel Porteous's final posting was as commander of the Rheindahlen Garrison of the British Army of the Rhine, after which he retired from the army in 1970. More detail

Jimmy Rooney

Here is a link to the story of a wonderful man from Glasgow who served with 3 HAA Regt RA before he was captured in Singapore in 1942, later working on the Thailand-Burma Railway. Jimmy Rooney is now 99 years old.  It is a very moving account and shows what they endurred during this time.

We Salute You! 



Captain Henry Tombs

9th July is the anniversary of the action for which Captain Henry Tombs of the Bengal Horse Artillery was awarded the Victoria Cross, and became the honour title of “Tombs' Troop” , now 28/143  battery  (Toombs Troop). Toombs was awarded the VC for coming to the assistance of one of his subalterns who had got into a spot of bother in hand to hand combat with mutineers. 

The citation says:

“For very gallant conduct on the part of Lieutenant Hills before Delhi, in defending the position assigned to him in case of alarm, and for noble behaviour on the part of Lieutenant-Colonel Tombs in twice coming to his subaltern's rescue, and on each occasion killing his man.” 

Tombs claimed that his folded military cloak saved his life from the sword thrusts  of his opponents. 

There was a lot more to Henry Tombs than this act of gallantry.  Field Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar, a fellow Gunner VC described Tombs as 

“an unusually handsome man and a thorough soldier. His gallantry ...wherever he had been engaged was the general talk of the camp. I had always heard of Tombs as one of the best officers in the regiment, ...As a cool, bold leader of  men, Tombs was unsurpassed ; no fire, however hot, and no crisis, however unexpected, could take him by surprise ; he grasped the situation in a moment and issued his orders without hesitation, inspiring all ranks with confidence in his power and capacity. He was somewhat of a martinet, and was more feared than liked by his men until they realized what a grand leader he was, when they gave him their entire confidence and were ready to follow him anywhere and everywhere."  

Henry Tombs was a veteran of dozens of campaigns over twenty years of service and his military career is the story of the British Army in India. Tombs was promoted to major general at the age of 42, but died aged 49 of sickness.   However, James Hill, the subaltern Tombs saved  lived to the age of 85 and also awarded the VC died as a Lieutenant General in 1919, living through the first world war.

The battery that he and Tombs had served with sword and revolver had become  56th Howitzer battery RFA which served on the Western Front throughout the First World War and took part in the battle for Delville Wood on the Somme 100 years ago this month in late July 1916.  

Image attribution By Unknown - Date 1857, Public Domain,    

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