Born: 21st June 1893, Woolwich, Kent.

Died: 1st January 1915; age 21; KiA with submarine in North Sea.

Occupation: Barber.

Enlistment Details: Location: Chatham; Date: 15th September 1913 – signed up for 12 years. Height: 5ft g 3/4 ins, fresh complexion, brown hair & blue eyes. Tattoo – Sailor on right forearm.



Pembroke II – Stoker II – 15th September 1913 – 23rd January 1914.

Formidable – Stoker II – 24th January 1914.

Formidable – Stoker I – 13th August 1914 – 1st January 1915.


Rank: Stoker First Class; Service Number: K/20691

Regiment: Royal Navy, H.M.S. ‘Formidable’.


Memorial Reference:


Chatham Naval Memorial,



Relatives Notified & Address: Oldest son of William John Porter, of 27, Sirdar Road, Bramford Road, Ipswich.




1891   6, Park Road, Plumstead, Kent.


William was 2 years old and living with his parents & brother.

William John Porter, 24, a Labourer for Kent Water Works, born Charlton, Kent.

Mary Ann Esther Porter (nee O’Donnell), 21, born Battersea, London.

Thomas Porter, 7 months, born Plumstead.


1911   18, Lee Street, Plumstead, Kent.


William was 21 years old, a General Labourer. He was living with his aunt & uncle + cousins.

Henry Watson, 49, a General Labourer, born Dartford, Kent.

Mary Dagmar Watson (nee Porter), 42, born Charlton, Kent.

Dorothy Dagmar Watson, 1, born Plumstead.

Elsie Louisa Watson, 7 months, born Plumstead.

Mary Dagmar Watson, 13, born Plumstead.

1 boarder.


In 1912, Ashton under Lyne, Cheshire, William married, Sarah June Day, born 1893, Ireland.

Sarah and William had one son:

William James Porter, born September 1914, Stalybridge, Cheshire.



William’s widow, Sarah, and his young son, William, immigrated to Fall River, Bristol, Massachusetts U.S.A. in 1915. Where Sarah already had relatives. William attended school in Fall River. In 1933 he completed a Secretarial course at Thibodeau College of Business Administration. He became a Naturalized American in 1936.

William spent 40 years in the United States Foreign Service. He held the Rank of Ambassador in four countries – Algeria, 1962; South Korea, 1967 – 1971; Canada, 1974 – 1975 and Saudi Arabia, 1976 – 1977. In 1973 & 1974 William became the third-ranking post in the State Department, as Under Secretary for Political Affairs.

William became the Chief American delegate to the Vietnam peace talks in Paris, in 1971 & 1972. He was chosen by President Richard M. Nixon.

He died in March 1988, in Fall River, Massachusetts.


1st January 1915
H.M.S. ‘Formidable’. Pre-dreadnought class battleships. Launched in November 1998 and finished September 1901.
1914 Formidable served in the English Channel, based at Sheerness to guard against a possible German invasion, she covered the crossing of the British Expeditionary Force to France.
On the 31st December, the squadron was conducting training exercises off the Isle of Portland in the English Channel, when the German submarine U-24 torpedoed her at 02:20hrs, striking her on the starboard side abreast of the forward funnel. A second torpedo was fired at 03:05hrs hitting her in the starboard side close to her bow.
Heavy seas made it very difficult to rescue the crew. At 04:45hrs she began to capsize and sink.
It is estimated that 547 of the crew perished, 157 men were saved by military and civilian craft.
Three other Ipswich men were killed:

Petty Officer ALBERT EDWARD PIPE aged 31.
Registered 100, Dover Road, Ipswich.

Ship’s Corporal 1st Class THOMAS HENRY CROXSON aged 46.
Registered 29, Surrey Road, Ipswich.

Able Seaman WILLIAM JOHN NEWSON aged 30.
Registered 16, Bond Street, Ipswich.

In 1915 The Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury newspaper reported Petty Officer Albert James Snell of Ipswich was saved.

H.M.S. ‘Formidable’

H.M.S. ‘Formidable’




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