Portal, Charles Frederick Algernon “Peter”, 1st Viscount Portal of Hungerford.

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Portal, Charles Frederick Algernon, 1st Viscount Portal of Hungerford, born 21-05-1893, in Hungerford, Berkshire at Eddington House, Hungerford, Berkshire, the son of Edward Robert Portal and his wife Ellinor Kate (born Hill). His younger brother Admiral Sir Reginald Portal (1894–1983) joined the Royal Navy  and also had a distinguished career. Reginald joined the Royal Navy in 1907 and served in the battleship HMS Neptune before the First World War. As an air observer, he received the Distinguished Service Cross during the war for conspicuous bravery in combat over the Dardanelles, when he was wounded. Reginald was assigned to the seaplane carrier HMS Ark Royal as an observer, before returning to general service on the battleship HMS Colossus  Reginald died 18-06-1983 (aged 88).

The Portals had Huguenot origins, having arrived in England in the 17th century. He was related to the goldsmith and dramatist Abraham Portal, and more distantly so to Wyndham Portal, 1st Viscount Portal. Charles Portal, or “Peter” as he was nicknamed, was educated at Winchester College and Christ Church, Oxford. Portal had intended to become a barrister but he did not finish his degree and he left undergraduate life to enlist as a private soldier in 1914.

At the start of the First World War, Portal joined the British Army and was attached to the Motorized Section of the Royal Engineers  on the Western Front. Portal was promoted to corporal soon after joining the army and a few weeks later was promoted to second lieutenant. In December 1914 he was given command of all cavalrymen of the 1st Corps Headquarters Signals Company .In 1915 Portal joined the Royal Flying Corps and graduated as a pilot in April 1916 and was attached to No. 60 Squadron. He first served as a scout and as an air force officer. In June 1917 he was temporarily promoted to Major and given command of No. 16 Squadron and promoted to temporary lieutenant colonel in June 1918 and given command of No. 24 wing. Peter received the Order of Distinguished Service (DSO) with a bar   in 1917 and the Military Cross in 1918. In April 1918 he became an officer in the newly formed Royal Air Force. In July 1919 he was finally promoted to the rank of Major (short Squadron Leader). The squadron claimed 320 aerial victories. Twenty-six flying aces served in the squadron during the war;

After the war, Portal commanded No. 7 Squadron RAF and concentrated on improving bomb precision. He was promoted to Group Captain in 1931 and in 1934 he was appointed commander of the British forces in Aden where he kept the local tribes in check by air force. In January 1935 he was promoted to Air Commodore and in July 1937 to Air Vice Marshal when he was appointed Director of Organization in the Air Ministry. Just before the outbreak of World Wa II, he was ordered to establish thirty new air bases in Great Britain.

At the beginning of 1939, Portal was appointed Air Member for Personnel in the Air Council. At the outbreak of the Second World War he became Air Marshal and was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command in April 1940.Portal advocated strategic area bombing of German industrial areas instead of bombing special factories and power stations. On August 25, 1940, he gave the first order to bomb Berlin.

Because of this, Hermann Göring ordered the bombing of London, The Blitz began. Prime Minister Winston Churchill  here with Porta   was impressed by Portal’s strategy and Portal was knighted in July 1940.In October 1940, Portal was appointed Chief of the Air Staff with the rank of Air Chief Marshal. This appointment ensured that a number of senior officers within the RAF came under him. He remained in this position for almost the entire war.

He immediately became involved in the Big Wing controversy that resulted in the removal of Sir Hugh Caswell Tremenheere “Stuffy” Dowding as head of RAF Fighter Command. He concentrated on improving the bomber’s navigation systems and bombing assistance and increasing the power of the bombs. In August 1941 he received a report on the relative inefficiency of RAF bombing by day bombing of a proposed area and bombing by night. He replaced the head of Bomber Command Air Chief Marshal Richard Peirse with Arthur Harris, “Bomber Harris”. Portal accompanied Churchill to all conferences and made a good impression on the Americans. In January 1943 at the Casablanca Conference, the Combined Chiefs of Staff chose to coordinate the bombers of both the United States and Great Britain in a combined bombing offensive against Germany. The units were transferred to General Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower during Operation Overlord; but when control returned to the Combined Chiefs, Portal still advocated bombing German cities rather than specific areas.In June 1944 he was promoted to Marshal of the Royal Air Force and took part in the Yalta Conference in February 1945. In early 1944, Portal’s view of strategic bombing changed. In March 1945, Churchill ordered Portal’s strategy of strategic bombing to be halted after the bombing of Dresden. “Peter” received many awards including the US Army Distinguished Service Medal. .

After the war in 1945 Portal retired and on September 17th 1945 the peerage Portal of Hungerford was created for him and on January 28th 1946 he became Viscount Portal of Hungerford. From 1946 to 1951 he was Controller of Production (Atomic Energy) in the Ministry of Supply. He was elected chairman of British Aluminium. In 1960 he was elected chairman of the British Aircraft Corporation.

Death and burial ground of Portal, Charles Frederick Algernon “Peter”, 1st Viscount Portal of Hungerford.

Portal was elected Chairman of British Aluminium and in 1958/1959 he fought in the City of London’s “Aluminium War” against a hostile takeover bid by Sir Ivan Stedeford,  chairman and chief executive of Tube Investments. T.I. along with its ally  Reynolds Metals of the US, won the takeover battle, and in the process, rewrote the way the city of London conducted its business in relation to shareholders and investors. Stedeford replaced Portal as Chairman of British Aluminium. In 1960 Portal was elected chairman of the British Aircraft Corporation. Portal died from cancer at his home at West Ashling near Chichester on 22-04-1971, age 77,. His ashes are buried near his home in Funtington churchyard.

In July 1919, Portal married Joan Margaret Welby (1898–1996); they had a son (who died at birth) and two daughters.[1] The viscountcy died with him but he was succeeded in the barony according to the special remainder by his elder daughter, Rosemary Ann, who died on 29-09- 1990, age 67.

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