Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Remembering Jack Porter (1919 to 2013) - Great-grandson of John Killion and Jane Feeney

Anzac Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is the day on which we remember all Australians who served and died in war and on operational service past and present. The spirit of Anzac, with its qualities of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity.

John Maurice (Jack) Porter was born on 21 August 1919 at Lidcombe, NSW.  Jack was the fourth child of Clement William (Clem) Porter and Effie Maud Wright and the grandson of Rose Porter (nee Killion).  The family moved to Goulburn when Jack was 10.

After Jack finished school, he worked at the local wool stores.  Times were difficult as this was towards the end of the Great Depression.  

When Australian entered the Second World War, Jack enlisted and was a member of the 2/3 Battalion, 16th Brigade of the 6th Australian Division.   Jack was 20 and was on the first troop ship to leave Australia on 10 January 1940.  Jack remained with the 2/3rd for the duration of the war.  

Jack Porter - Kindly supplied by his daughter, Vicki
The 2/3rd disembarked in Egypt on 14 February 1940 for further training.  Their first campaign in January 1941 was an advance against the Italians in eastern Libya.  They were involved in successful attacks at Bardia and Tobruk.  They left Tobruk in early March for Greece and were soon deployed north to resist the German invasion.  They were forced to withdraw and evacuated by sea on 27 April 1941 for Palestine.  In June and July, they took part in the campaign in Syria and Lebanon.  They remained in Syria until January 1942.  

The 2/3rd left the Middle East in March 1942 heading for the war against Japan.  They were diverted on the voyage home to defend Ceylon (Sri Lanka) from possible Japanese attack.  They finally disembarked in Melbourne on 8 August 1942.  

The 2/3rd’s first campaign against the Japanese was the advance along the Kokoda Trail to the Japanese beachheads between September and December 1942.  They fought major engagements at Eora Creek, Oivi and on the Sanananda Track.  1943 and 1944 were spent training in northern Queensland.  Their last campaign of the war was the operation to clear the Japanese from the Aitape-Wewak region of New Guinea between December 1944 and August 1945.  They were on one of the last troop ships to return to Australian.  The 2/3rd Battalion disbanded on 8 February 1946.

When the 2/3rd was to return to New Guinea at the end of 1944, Jack’s mother wanted to seek the assistance of her cousin, William McKell, to have Jack remain in Australia.  McKell was Premier of NSW at the time.  Jack would not hear of it and returned to New Guinea.

When Jack returned to Australia, he was hospitalised at Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick for many months being treated for "scrub typhus" and malaria which he contracted in New Guinea.  Once he was well enough, he returned to his family home in Goulburn.  He worked as a nurse at the local Kenmore Hospital.  Soon after his return to Goulburn, Jack met Elva Agnes Bill, a local girl, at a dance in Kenmore.  They married six months later on 12 April 1947.  In 1951, Jack purchased a milk run.  Jack and Elva’s daughter, Vicki, was born in Goulburn.  In 2016, Vicki walked the Kokoda Track to honour her father.  Here’s Vicki on Anzac Day 2016 at Ower’s Corner at the start of the Kokoda Track.

In 1954, Jack became a publican and purchased his first hotel, The Royal Mail in the far west of NSW. This was the first of 5 hotels that Jack ran over the next 20 years.  The last was in Forest Road, Bexley.  After the death of his wife, Elva, in 2004, Jack returned to Goulburn where he died on 30 July 2013 aged 93.

“A life well lived.”

Please share photos and stories for other descendants of Jane, Edward and Thomas Feeney for this Anzac Day.

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