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Thread: Sqn Ldr Sidney Leslie Portass (70891)

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    Default Sqn Ldr Sidney Leslie Portass (70891)

    I'd appreciate some assistance in tracing Sqn Ldr Portass' family. He was born on 2 November 1915, the second son of John and Henrietta Portass (the Portass family has its roots in Lincolnshire, but John Portass left home at the start of the 20th century to start working in the grocery trade in Streatham).

    Sidney joined the Met Office in 1937, and the RAFO the following year. At the beginning of 1939 he was forecasting at Aldergrove, but when war was declared he went to France with the BEF as a Liaison Officer (between French and UK Met Offices). Joined the RAFVR Nov 1939.

    In Sept 1940 he became the Senior Met Officer of the men sailing on two weather ships, and subsequently lost his life when his ship, the SS Arakaka, was torpedoed on 22 June 1941.

    Now, this is where I need some expert help. The CWGC gives his nok as his parents, by this time living in Romford. However, I have just learnt he married a WREN and they set up home in Gidea Park (also Romford), from which union came a daughter, Lesley.

    I would like to find the name of his wife (marriage probably 1939 or 1940), and birth date of his daughter. It's his daughter I'm trying to trace, so I'm also looking for a possible marriage (circa 1960-70?). A bit of a tall order I know, but I've seen how skilled some of you are with these searches and would very much appreciate some help.

    Brian

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    Default Sqn Ldr Leslie Portass

    Hi Brian,

    This may or may not help but...

    There is no record in the BMD index of Sidney Portass marrying - at least not between 1935 and the date of his death. However, the birth of a Lesley M Portass (mother's maiden name Guthrie) is registered at Romford in the 3rd quarter of 1942. A back-check of Guthrie marriages also failed to come up with Sidney Portass's name.

    Do you have any more background that might narrow things down a bit?

    David

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    Many thanks David, you are far more persistent than me. I'm no expert at these things, hence my plea for help.

    Now you've given me a real headache. Portass died in June 1941, having sailed from Liverpool in January 1941, thereafter his ship, the Arakaka, was based at St John's, Newfoundland, yet his daughter's birth is registered over a year after his death. If there's no marriage certificate it is conceivable he met and married his wife in Newfoundland, but that still leaves a heck of a gap.

    I'll get his daughter's Birth Certificate to see if it holds any clues.

    I'm afraid I can't provide any information other than that previously posted; I'd assumed he'd married in the UK before leaving Liverpool for the last time - but that looks like another assumption up the creek.

    At least now I have his daughter's full name and dob, I can try to find if she ever married. She and I are of an age, so I'll try the 1960s.

    Brilliant David, many thanks again

    Brian

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    He seems to have been a bright lad, and sporty too (entries in The Times - jough no mention of marriage):

    Received the Oxford & Cambridge Schools Examination Board's Higher Certificate in 1933 whilst at Brockley County School (the only one from that school)

    Scholarship for St Catharine's College, Cambridge in Mathematics in 1934

    College Prize 1935

    Senior Optimes 1937

    Played Rugby for his old school whilst at College

    A

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    Thank you Amrit. St Catherine's archivist has copied me his obituary and college details, so I'm reasonably up to speed there. There's no doubt his daughter never knew her father, but one reason I'd like to trace her is that I've a photo of him on the Arakaka - something its unlikely she's ever seen.

    I suspect she was born in Canada, and brought back to England when old enough to cope with an Atlantic crossing - and when a berth became available on a fast ship (sailing alone).

    Brian

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    Apologies for raising this old thread again, but I've started working again on the story of which Portass is part, and my Googling brought me back here. What I wrote at the time was written in good faith, but in the event that some future historian or family member stumbles across the thread I need to make some corrections.

    It turns out Portass was never married, nor fathered any children - the information I'd been given actually referred to the marriage of his brother. Lesley was his daughter (named after her uncle), and I was fortunate enough to trace her after her father died. She was kind enough to provide photos and tell me as much as she knew, but unfortunately no correspondence had survived. Lesley subsequently approached the BBC, which was sufficiently interested to include his story on the BBC Radio 4 programme Making History two years ago (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01ddxcg , it's the first six minutes of the programme).

    Brian

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