In the third week of April 1915, the Illustrated London News published the first official obituary of Captain Ernest Nevill Jourdain who was killed serving with the 1st Battalion at near Ypres earlier that year.
On 16th February, Captain Jourdain, who was then in command of C Company, went out to try to retake ‘O’ trench in an area along the southern edge of the Ypres-Comines canal, which had previously been captured by a battalion of the Middlesex Regiment and later held by the Buffs. However, during the previous night, the Germans had beaten them out and re-occupied the position. Upon upon arrival, Jourdain was greeted by a hail of fire from well-entrenched Germans and could do nothing to dislodge them without reinforcements and bombs. He sent word back to HQ asking for both, but before his message was received, he was shot by machine-gun fire.
Two platoons under Captain C.S. Wilson were dispatched to assist the position, which was between the wood and the canal, but by the time they arrived, Jourdain was already dead. Enemy machine guns were in constant use and it was decided that any further attack would be futile until the guns could be dealt with.
To the right, Captain Wood-Martin in ‘N’ trench was also fighting bitterly to hold his position against this withering fire. At 2.00 am, a planned attack by the Cheshire's was called off and what remained of C Company in between 'O' and 'N' trenches, were pulled out of the front line, their position being occupied by a battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers.
Only was it when they were withdrawn, did the full extent of the action become evident. Captain's Wood-Martin and Harris, Lieutenant's Ffoukes and Smith and 19 other ranks were killed. Captain's F.S. Cooper and J.A. Campbell, Lieutenant's Day and Payne were wounded, along with 53 other ranks. 171 other ranks, including Jourdain were however listed as 'missing.' Those who knew of his fate had themselves been captured and the uncertainty as to his fate remained for several weeks, until early April, when without news of him, he was officially listed as killed.
Commissioned into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in 1898. He was promoted to Lieutenant upon joining the 1st Battalion, The Suffolk Regiment in December 1899. He served in South Africa with the 1st Battalion and was with them in Egypt when war was declared.
The youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Nevill Jourdain, he was educated at Haileybury College, he was a competent and notable athlete being for three consecutive years in the final pool in the bayonet-fighting competition at the Naval and Military Tournament at Olympia. A Captain of the 1st Battalion's hockey and cricket teams, he also held an Army gymnastic instructor’s certificate from Aldershot.
Sport ran through Jourdain's blood. On his mothers side of the family - the Nevill’s, was a young Lieutenant serving in the East Surrey Regiment. 15 months later, he would kick a football over the top during the battle of the Somme making him forever immortal.
Welcome to our online 'blog' charting the history of the many Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment and the part they played in the Great War.
Starting back in March 2014, we have recorded the events of 100 years ago on the centenary of their happening.
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