Written by Ian Thomas.
William Jordan was born in Great Bookham on 27 April 1855 (just 50 years after the Battle of Trafalgar). Eventually he moved and worked as a general labourer at the gravel pit on Leigh Hill, Cobham. He married Emily in Cobham on 19 April 1879. Their 9 children born between 1879 and 1897 included second son James (aka Jim) born March 1887 and fourth son Edward born December 1894.
William died in November 1912. Two years later on 4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany. James was then 27, Edward was 19.
James worked as a gardener for a Cobham family. He met and later married a Hatchford girl, Lucy Emily in St Andrew’s Church, Cobham on 28 November 1914. (I would like to think that Edward was at their wedding as he was never to have the chance to be at his own). Sadly it has not yet been possible to locate much detail of his army service or his short life.
James enlisted for military service in Guildford and his Attestation Form is dated 8 December 1915 when he was 28 and then living in Anyards Road, Cobham. Probably because of his age he was listed for non-combative duty and was enrolled into the army reserve. James and Emily became parents of their only child, a daughter Jessie who was born on 30 June 1916.
James was called up on 2 August 1916 on Regiment Number T4/232199 and posted to the Reserve Horse Transport Depot (a branch of the RASC – Royal Army Service Corps) at Park Royal, London NW10. On 9 January 1917, after 5 months of presumed training, he sailed from Devonport, Plymouth on the horse transport ship H.T. Shropshire on a 3 week voyage to Salonica (now Thessoloniki, Greece). On arrival he was allocated to the British Horse Transport Division (BHTD) which was operating under the umbrella of ‘The Army of the Black Sea’ formerly known as the Salonikan Army. According to his Statement of Service, he was based in Salonica as a driver and was transferred between the various companies within this division during his tour.
On 30 September 1917 his brother Edward was killed in action whilst serving with The Royal Field Artillery during the major Passchendaele Campaign. He was just 22 years of age. His remains are buried in the Brandhoek Cemetery at Ypres (now Leper) in Belgium. His name is recorded on the memorial plaque in St Andrew’s Church along with 86 names of other Cobham men who had been fellow comrades in arms that lost their lives.
When James became aware of his brother’s death is unknown but he went on to serve through 1917 and into 1918. In fact he was still in Greece when Turkey ended their involvement in the war, 30 October, also when Germany signed the Armistice Document ending the war, 11 November 1918.
However, the record shows that he remained in service into 1919 as it is recorded that on 1 February 1919 he was ‘selected for retention’ with a bonus of 10 shillings and 6 pence (£0.53) to be paid (per week, month or annum is not clear because the handwritten entry is obscure). In July 1919 he was transferred to Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey). After 4 months there he was repatriated, sailing home to arrive on 28 November. This completed an overseas tour of duty of almost 2 years with no home leave.
Before returning to Cobham he spent Class Z army time at Crystal Palace and Woolwich and his actual demobilization date is given as 27 December 1919 when he was 31 years of age.
Once home he returned to his pre-war occupation and his family continued to reside in the same house in Anyards Road. His wife Lucy died in 1956 aged 65; James himself died in 1964 aged 77. Jessie Jordan married George Thomas, also from Cobham and were parents of my brother and I. Therefore James and Lucy were our grandparents and Edward our great uncle.
Our father died in 1993 aged 80 and our mother in 2007 aged 91.
My wife and I have spent our married lives here and I worked within the local community for 40 years. Our 2 daughters were born and grew up in Cobham . Our eldest and her husband both live and work in Cobham and have a young son born in 2014 who will shortly be starting school in Cobham.
In all 6 generations spanning 160+ years with roots in Cobham.