Saturday, 16 September 2017

On this day in 1917, Gunner John Jordan was killed

Gunner 107471
238th Siege Battery
yal Garrison Artillery
Died age 40
16th September 1917
John Jordan was born in Lezant in 1876, the son of Elias and Elizabeth Jordan. He was baptised as John Tredinnick Jordan in Lezant church on 5th November 1876. In 1881 he was living in Launceston with his parents and in 1891 he was working and living as a farm servant in Lake, Lifton. By 1901 he had changed occupations and was working as a storeman in Wheal Russell mine, on Morwell Down above Morwellham. John married Edith Friend at Tavistock Registry Office on 5th October 1901 and they went on to have two sons, William John and Charles Herbert, who were both born in Stoke Climsland parish. At the time of the 1911 census, the family was living at Winsor in Kelly Bray and John Snr was working as a storeman/millhand, presumably in one of the local mines.

John’s Service Record has survived and this tells us that he enlisted at Callington on 9th December 1915 and was assigned to the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA), based at the Citadel in Plymouth. He remained in reserve until 22nd July 1916 when he was mobilised and posted to a base in Bexhill. He subsequently embarked in France on 19th March 1917 and went into action on 18th May 1917.

The Siege Batteries of the RGA were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plummeting fire. They were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strong points, trenches, dumps, stores, roads and railways behind enemy lines. In the case of the 238th, its weapon was a 6 inch howitzer.

Unit Diaries were not maintained by individual Siege Batteries and that for the 238th covers only August and October 1917, tantalisingly not the month during which John Jordan was killed. What is clear, however, from those two months is that the Battery was in continuous active service around Ypres as part of the Battle of Passchendaele, firing many rounds and, in return, coming under heavy enemy fire. It was in one of these barrages that he was killed. His body was recovered and was buried in the Klein-Vierstraat British Cemetery (Grave reference: III.C.3), which is a few miles south west of Ypres. At 40 years of age when he died, he has the dubious position of being the oldest of those listed on the Stoke Climsland memorial.

John Jordan's headstone.
View of Klein-Vierstraat British Cemetery.
Formal record of John Jordan's effects, which were passed on to his widow.

No comments: