John Porterfield was born in Royton in 1884, his parents being Edward and Margaret who were originally from Manchester and London respectively. Edward & Margaret had thirteen children in total but sadly by 1911 only five were still alive - John along with James, Frank, Agnes & Ann Ellen. In 1891 they were all living at 46 Edge Lane but by 1901 they were at 131 Oldham Road and there is no sign of John's father Edward in the census. By 1911 John is living on Eleanor Street at the house of his brother James & sister in law Catherine. Along with John & James was their father Edward. Whilst still married John's parents seem to have separated as Margaret was living in the Luzley Brook area with John's siblings Agnes, Frank and Ann Ellen.
John worked as a cardroom jobber at the Grape Mill and was also a prominent member of the congregation of SS Aidan & Oswald. After his death the Oldham Chronicle stated that John had been living at 119 Oldham Road with his parents so perhaps there had been a reconciliation. He joined the army on August 12th 1915 and the next day reported to the 5th Reserve Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery at Deptford.
John was sent for overseas service in May 1916 and arrived with the 49th Battery of the RFA on May 29th. Very shortly after that - possibly even on the same day - he succumbed to the effects of poison gas. John was treated in hospital first in France and then England before being discharged from the army on July 14th as being 'no longer physically fit for war service'. His pension record survives and as well as the effects of gas he is recorded as suffering from shock. On August 12th 1916, a year to the day after his enlistment, he died at home. He was buried three days later at Royton Cemetery, a large number of relatives and friends were present including a number of Royton soldiers on leave. The last post was sounded at the graveside.
Sadly John was one of the many men whose deaths were not recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Thankfully his hometown did remember him and he rightfully appears on the Royton War Memorial.
Date of Death:12/08/1916
Regiment:Royal Field Artillery
Grave Ref:1M 3977