Harold Edward Lionel Porter
Written and researched by David
with the kind help of the Climbing Club, the Alpine Journal and the
residents of Sutton Courtenay.
Born in Birkenhead, Merseyside in 1886
Harold "Ned" Porter was educated at Charterhouse
Surrey and Corpus Christi
Oxford where he gained a First in Mods [Classics].
He was a keen sportsman and represented their Cricket XI, and played
Fives, an Eton handball game.
His life was mapped out at a really early age when Herbert Mallory
became Vicar of St John's Church, Birkenhead and his son George
befriended Harold at school. The young George, aged eight, had his
peers in awe as he would climb the downspouts with cat-like
sure-footedness, Harold paying out the rope through the bedroom window.
Their camaraderie grew immensley, their skills perfected in the
mountains of North Wales where Harold had become a renowned technician.
A Climbing Journal notes them at the Pen-y-Pass Hotel in Snowdon in the
Spring of 1914.
Okay, have you twigged it yet ?
Harold's schoolfriend was the
George Mallory who in 1924 may have been the first man to climb
Everest. He was sadly killed with his partner Sandy Irvine in an
avalanche, they were last seen by observers very near the summit but
disappeared into the clouds. It is not known whether they were
ascending or on the way down when the accident happened, see EverestNews
[Sandy Irvine and George Mallory 1924
- Together back left]
See also The
Before WW1 Harold had two guided seasons in the Alps, then two with the
likes of Mallory, Hugh Pope and Raymond Bicknell in which they made new
routes up Dent Blanche.
By the outbreak of the war Harold was a Master at Radley College
a boarding school in Oxford, and in 1915 he joined the Royal Engineers.
As a 2nd Lt in the19th Company he
entered the fray of the Somme in
1916, his unit was a Field
team principally to organise production of the tens of
thousands of trench maps. He was Mentioned in Despatches on two
occasions and now a Captain in the 20th Light Division he was awarded
the Military Cross.
Acknowledgement of Military
He came through the war physically fit
and in the summers returned to climbing in the Zermatt and Mont Blanc
districts and the Oberland. Together with Mallory, Bicknell and Leslie
Shadbolt notable ascents, new routes and traverses were plentiful. In
1919 Harold was elected to the Alpine Club (he became Vice-President in
It was, however, in New Zealand that he made his most unique
contribution to mountaineering. In eight seasons from 1923, he ascended
almost every important peak, most of them several times and by new
routes. Marcel Kurz was a foremost exponent of winter mountaineering in
the Alps, climbing achievements included the North faces of the
Matterhorn and the Eiger. The greatest dream of Kurz was to climb and
explore further afield in other continents. It came true in 1926 when
he was invited by Harold to join him in exploring the Southern Alps of
New Zealand. They did a new traverse across the difficult ice
peak Mount Tasman.
thanks to Claude Elliott and R.Scott Russell of the Alpine Journal
[Ned and Doris Porter, Lud Mahan and
Marcel Kurz: 1927 (NZAJ 1980]
On the 8th March 1927 a wedding of
special interest to Canterbury(NZ) people took place at St. Thomas's
Church, Woodbury when Miss Doris Studholme Barker, of Waihi, Woodbury,
was married to Mr H. E. L. Porter, of Shrewsbury Road, Birkenhead,
England. Later in the
afternoon Mr and Mrs Porter left to catch their boat for England.
How is this for coincidence, he
conquered the10,338 ft Mt Sefton
His last climb in NZ was in 1935.
the outbreak of WW2 Harold had retired from schoolteaching and was
living on "The Green" in Sutton Courtenay, Buckinghamshire. He didn't
on his Oak leaves and became the Head ARP warden, hopefully a more
pleasant character than the antagonistic Hodges in Dad's Army.
When old age came, and paticularly athritis in his hands, barred him
from the high peaks he was quite happy hill walking in the Alps, Norway
and the Dolomites with his wife and sometimes Marcel Kurz. He was often
seen sitting in the huts knitting away in silence.
In 1984 a lodge was built in the Fox
Glacier Village with moneys bequeathed to the club by Doris Porter. The
H.E.L.Porter Memorial Lodge
[photo the AlpineClub.org.nz]
Memories of Mr H.E.L.Porter - a
special recollection by a Sutton Courtenay resident for Sefton RUFC
He and his wife lived at the house on
the Green now called Bekynton House.
Both were tall and slim, and 'tweedily'
dressed. Mrs P wore brown woollen stockings and wore her hair in
a severe style (as per ex Edwardian schoolteacher!). My paternal
grandfather was their gardener after he retired from the Manor gardens
after the 2nd World War.
At the age of about 9 -10 years old, I
used to spend some Saturday mornings in the large kitchen garden across
the back lane from the Porters' house and flower garden. The kitchen
garden (now a new house 'Swan Acre') had very high brick walls, upon
which grew peaches, pears and figs. Grandfather would sometimes pick me
a ripe fig to eat as a treat. He taught me how to graft cuttings
(probably roses), binding them carefully with raffia.
Mr Porter was delighted when I gained a
County Scholarship from the old village school, to go to St Helens
School, Abingdon in 1948. He had several times helped me with general
knowledge quizzes in the holidays (we were allowed to ask people).
He spent a good deal of time abroad,
mainly mountain climbing in New Zealand. They were very reserved,
knowledgeable people, and very pleasant to know.
Ned Porter passed away 1973 in Abingdon,
H.E.L Porter MC
with Oak Leaf for Mentioned in Despatches
All Aliens RFC, Seft0n
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