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William Poata

Portrait of Major William Poata (Porter), Auckland Weekly News, 19 May 1943. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19430519-18-10. Image has no known copyright restrictions.

Portrait of Major William Poata (Porter), Auckland Weekly News, 19 May 1943. Auckland Libraries Heri …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    William AWMM
  • Surname
    Poata AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    • Poata William Porter AWMM
    • William Porter AWMM
    • Ben Porter Public - Melissa - Direct descendant - 22 January 2018 - Family
  • Service number
    WWII 39424 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
    • Iwi Māori AWMM
    • Ngapuhi Public - Melissa - Direct descendant - 22 January 2018 - Family
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    23 August 1915 AWMM TaumarereBay of Islands AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    • WW2 Kaeo, North Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
    • Jayforce Kaeo, North Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    • WW2 Mrs R. Poata (mother), Pupuke, Kaeo, North Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
    • Jayforce Mrs R. Poata (mother), Pupuke, Kaeo, North Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards
    • Military Cross and bar (MC*) AWMM
      3 November 1942 AWMM
      Capt. Porter was a Company Commander in the attack made by the Battalion on the eastern end of El Mrier Depression on the night 25/26 August 1942. He led his company with fine dash and determination and his courage and leadership were inspiring. HIs example set the standard which enabled his company to overrun, capture and destroy sixteen enemy machine-gun posts in succession. (London Gazette 5/11/1942(I)) The National Archives. Recommendation for Award for Porter (Poata), William. (Ref. WO 373/22/11). Bar to Military Cross. AWMM
    • Military Cross (MC) AWMM
      24 February 1942 AWMM
      The National Archives. Recommendation for Award for Porter (Poata), William. (Ref. WO 373/22/11). Military Cross. MC. December 1941 - Battle of Gazala, Libya. Bar to MC. 1942. Lt. Porter commanding "A" Company has shown consistent coolness and aggressive leadership in action. In Crete as a Platoon Commander he led his men to the attack although wounded. At Point 209 (Sidi Margarel) when the column in mechanised transport suddenly came under a heavy barrage he in the lead, charged the position in the transport, dismounted under the enemy guns and stormed their positions with the bayonets. Among the numerous weapons counted later were 26 anti-tank guns. At Point 181 (Gazala Bay) in the night assault he led his men through the east face of the fortifications and carried the main fort from the inside with the bayonet. Though struck and wounded by a bomb he remained in commend of his company. Next day in daylight he carried Point 154 with bayonet in full view of the enemy in front and above on both flanks. This point was held against heavy odds till the enemy withdrew. (London Gazette 24/2/1942). AWMM
    • War Medal 1939-1945 AWMM
    • New Zealand War Service Medal AWMM

Training and Enlistment

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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    Hospital Diseases , Wounds, WWII AWMM
    Severely wounded by mortar fire at Takrouna, Tunisia in April 1943 AWMM

Last known rank

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  • Last rank

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Name listed under the name Porter (Poata) William in the Nominal Roll 2. Listed under the name Porter, Poata William in Nominal Roll 16

    Maj W. Porter, MC and bar; Kaeo; born Taumarere, 23 Aug 1915; taxi driver; twice wounded. (Source: Cody, J.F. 28 Maori Battalion. p.58.)

    'The day (the 25th) was spent by A and B, the two raiding companies, in making preparations—oiling weapons, testing magazine springs, loosening grenade pins and putting really sharp points to bayonets. It is the point that counts in a bayonet, the rest is muscle and wrist action. Battalion Headquarters also was very busy; orders conforming with the artillery programme were prepared and given; an engineer detachment to blow holes in the wire was briefed; C Company was to place a platoon in each of A and B Companies' areas while the tenants were away; two platoons from 23 Battalion were to act as covering party while the start line tapes were put out and were to remain out until the Maoris withdrew. The setting up of a forward RAP and a dozen other details were attended to. The scene where the companies assembled was, in the eyes of Brigadier Kippenberger, an impressive one: Half an hour before zero I went up to see them off. Both companies, Ngapuhi under Porter and Arawa under Pene, were ready, waiting together at the near end of the tape. I walked about among them and was amazed and amused by the number of weapons they were carrying. Every other man had an automatic, mostly captured Spandaus or Bredas, they were loaded with grenades, many had pistols, very few had rifle and bayonet only. Otherwise they were lightly equipped. The Maori padre spoke to them, most eloquently and impressively. Then he said a prayer, very moving in the utter silence. Baker asked me to speak. I did so briefly. I said how many guns would be in support—there were grunts of satisfaction—that I was confident they would do well, wished them all good fortune and concluded by saying: ‘The fame of your people and the honour of your battalion are in your hands to-night.’ There was a pause and a moment's silence, broken by a long burst from a Spandau in the salient. A man said: ‘Let her go, boy, that's your last.’ Baker said: ‘On your feet, men,’ said ‘Goodbye’ to me, and they moved silently off and disappeared into the gloom.
    The ‘I’ section had made a good job of the start line, with each platoon area clearly defined and lacking only individual place cards. Captain Porter (A Company) on the right was to sweep around the lip of the depression behind the enemy wire then wheel right and return direct to his own lines, while Captain Pene (B Company) was to keep abreast of Porter, go down into the depression and up the far side, return over his own route, then back home via the gaps he had entered by.
    At precisely 4 a.m. the concentrated fire of two divisional artilleries fell with an overpowering whine-roar-crash on the eastern tip of El Mreir and the raiders closed up towards the barrage. The guns lifted their range, the engineers streaked forward into the dust and smoke with bangalore torpedoes, and the Maoris leant forward like runners waiting the starting pistol. The flash of the exploding bangalores was the signal for a race for the resulting holes in the wire. The enemy defensive fire came down across his own eastern front, which was quite the wrong place. It also fell in the battalion defences, which it will be remembered were occupied by C Company, who also considered the fire to be in quite the wrong place.
    The reserve platoon with Battalion Headquarters was just through the wire when the first prisoners appeared. Lieutenant Waaka writes:
    One was a huge fellow, well over six feet and who appeared larger still in the dust and smoke haze. The smallest chap in my platoon, ‘Hoot’ Hapimana, who stands at five feet nothing, immediately ran forward and circling around the bloke rummaged at his clothes. The Italian looked down amazedly at this little chap apparently unconcerned at the sight of a gigantic enemy and only interested in his waist line. I was also wondering what Hoot was up to until he burst out disgustedly, ‘No bloody luger’ and kicked the Itie in the seat of his pants, or as close to the seat as his short legs could get. The old tale, loot at all costs.
    The attack itself was a gory business. A Company overran sixteen machine-gun posts, half of which fell to 9 Platoon led by Sergeant Jack August, who was awarded an MM for his aggressive leadership. Lieutenant Waaka's most vivid memory is overtaking Lieutenant Hamilton, NZE, standing with his hands on his hips and swearing disgustedly because he had a spare bangalore and nothing in sight to blow up. The two sappers carrying the torpedo eventually ditched it. Thirty-five minutes had been allowed for the raid and A Company, with time on its hands, found its immediate vicinity on the far side so peaceful that cigarettes were produced and lighted one from the butt of the other, after which Captain Porter gathered up his sixteen prisoners and, hands firmly and deeply in his pockets, led his men home. A bar to the MC awarded for his leadership in the Libyan campaign was later announced.' (Source: Cody, J.F. 28 Maori Battalion. pp. 211-212.) AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
    26 February 1998 Public Source
  • Date of death
    26 February 1998 Public - Melissa - Direct descendant - 22 January 2018 - Family Papers
  • Age at death
    83 Public - Melissa - Direct descendant - 22 January 2018 - Family Papers
  • Place of death
    Auckland Public - Melissa - Direct descendant - 22 January 2018 - Family Papers
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
    Matangirau Public - Melissa - Direct descendant - 22 January 2018 - Family Papers
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

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  • lest we forget
  • I was very lucky to have met and spent time Uncle William Poata RIP and work with his son Chris Porter in Melbourne. Always a gentlemen what my mother Susan Stewart Otoroa Matauri Bay would say. This year 2016 I will be going to Athens and Crete and walking in your footsteps honoring yourself our Tupuna and Whanau. We will never forget your courage and your achievements.
    Public - Adrian - Other relative - 15 January 2016



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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
22 January 2018MelissaAuckland, New ZealandDirect descendant
15 January 2016AdrianGold Coast AustraliaOther relative

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