Bombed during World War II, St George’s Garrison Church survives as an evocative ruin with recently conserved mosaics, and a modern canopy roof, for all to enjoy.

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V.C. Bravery remembered

The V.C. Memorial here at St. George's lists the Royal Artillery recipients of this outstanding award for valour in the presence of the enemy. One such awardee was Patrick Porteous whose citation reads: 

At Dieppe on the 19th August, 1942, Major Porteous was detailed to act as Liaison Officer between two detachments whose task was to assault the heavy coast defence guns.

In the initial assault, working with the smaller of the two detachments, he 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 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 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. He 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.

Patrick Porteous was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on the 27th October 1942.

In spite of severe wounds, Patrick Porteous went on to make a full recovery and had a distinguished military career in Palestine, Germany and Singapore. Following the war he was confirmed in the rank of captain, promoted to major in 1950 to lieutenant colonel on 1 May 1959, and rose to the rank of colonel before he retired. He had the honour of being in the leading car at the late Queen Mother's 100th Birthday Parade, before his death in October 2000, aged 82.

A retired Major-General has contacted us to say: "Let me add my pleasure in re-reading Colonel Pat Porteous' citation. I was lucky enough to have him as my CO at the Junior Leaders Regiment, 1991-2. A subaltern could hardly wish for a more inspiring leader."

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St George's Garrison Church in Woolwich, with its modern canopy roof and stunning mosaics, is both an evocative ruin and a contemporary space. Designed by Thomas H Wyatt in an Italian-Romanesque style, the Church was built between 1862-63 to serve the Royal Artillery in Woolwich. Today it is run by a local group, the Woolwich Garrison Church Trust who are committed to making it available for all to visit and enjoy. Directly opposite the Barracks in Woolwich, South East London, come and enjoy its beauty and peaceful garden.

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