Patrick Delaforce dies

Patrick Delaforce, soldier, author and member of the famous Port shipping family, has died aged 94.

Patrick de Fleurriet Delaforce was the great-grandson of George Henry Delaforce who founded the House of Delaforce in Oporto in 1868. Patrick’s father Victor and uncle John were senior partners in the firm.

During the Second World War, while only in his early 20s, Patrick served as an officer in 13th Regiment (Honourable Artillery Company) Royal Horse Artillery, part of the famous 11th Division, seeing action from Normandy to the Elbe between 1944 and 1945 during which he was twice wounded and twice-mentioned in despatches.

Resigning from the army in 1947 he went to join the family business in Oporto where he was a sales manager under his uncle John – his father was the winemaker and blender.

During his relatively short spell at the company – some five years in all – he helped re-establish several of Delaforce’s pre-war markets focusing in particular, as it happened, on the countries through which he had fought with 11th Division – France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

His work in Germany in particular helped make Delaforce a market leader for Port in that country.

Had he stayed in Oporto it is likely he would have become a partner in the firm and perhaps better known to the wine trade but, still a young man, he returned to London and embarked in a new career in marketing.

In the late 1950s and early ‘60s, Delaforce worked for Intam Limited including as vice-president and general manager of Otto-Intam, an international advertising agency in New York.

In 1962 he bought an old farmhouse and vineyard in the Lot where the wine he made (in his bath tub) was, by his own admission, “terrible” – though he was prouder of the truffles produced.

It was here that he began what he termed his “fifth career” as a writer and historian, writing books including volumes on his own family’s Huguenot heritage, the wives of Samuel Peyps and Nelson, Wellington’s love life and many books on the divisions of the Second World War including his own, the 11th.

He was awarded the Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur in 2015 having already been awarded the Bonze Cross of the Netherlands in 1945.

Patrick Delaforce was predeceased by his second wife, Gillian, and is survived by a son and three daughters. He died on 22 January 2018.

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