AN OVERTON author is to release a book looking into the history of a famous soldier from the village.

Bertram Portal’s name may ring a bell, having been born into a wealthy family famous for their mill at Laverstoke which made banknote paper for the Bank of England.

But after researching his military career with the help of his grandchildren through diaries, letters and other sources, Richard Waldram has penned this biography setting out his life and career.

As the youngest of three sons, Portal was destined for a military career and joined the 17th Lancers Cavalry Regiment in India after graduating from Sandhurst in 1885.

He was awarded a Distinguished Service Order in the Boer War, and was promoted to command his regiment in Edinburgh and India until 1907.

He left the army and devoted himself to his village of Overton until 1914, when he was called up as a reserve officer and was in command of the mobile column in readiness at the Curragh Camp near Dublin when the Easter Rising broke out in 1916, and played a major role in its suppression. He retired for a second time in 1918, after serving on the Western Front.

Author Richard has lived for 46 years in Overton, Hampshire, close to Southington House which was Bertram Portal’s home. One of his grandchildren is a family friend.

Richard studied medicine at Pembroke College, Cambridge and St Thomas’s Hospital London, qualifying in 1966. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

As a consultant he had no time to pursue his life-long interest in history but on retirement he published a number of monographs about Overton. This led to a major project in which he led a team of researchers to produce A History of Overton from 1500 which was published in 2019. Though more academic in style, it proved to be very popular.

Richard knew from this research that Hampshire Archives holds a very large collection of Bertram Portal’s letters and papers deposited there by the family. Having perused them, he was convinced that his story deserved to be better known. He then discovered Bertram’s war diaries, an album of photographs at the National Army Museum and more of his letters at the British Library. When Bertram’s grandchildren shared his enthusiasm and showed him many more letters and photographs, Richard knew that the project was viable.

A Solider And A Gentleman will launch on Saturday, November 20 at St Mary’s Hall in Overton at 5.30pm, with copies on sale from Wessex Business Services after the event.