Royal Reels: Gambling


How could one resist researching a cover sent from a village with such a non-harmonious name as Mudamuckla to a Gallipoli hero? The cover has a blue registration label for Mudamuckla, South Australia, and it is addressed to Editor, Colonel H.F.N. Jourdain, C.M.G., Fyfield Lodge, Fyfield Road, Oxford, England. The orange-brown 5d KGV Head stamp is cancelled MUDAMUCKLA/ 27 JL 37/ S.A (Figure 1).

The reverse has the identical Mudamuckla postmark seen on the front, a transit REGISTERED/ 29 JY/ 37/ ADELAIDE S.A, as well as an arrival purple oval REGISTERED/1/ 30 AUG 37/ OXFORD/ (Figure 2).

Only two internet resources gave early biographical data on Henry Francis Newdigate Jourdain, and despite both giving this full name, there was no match on his parentage. Somewhat surprising to me, the most informative sources of information on him was derived from sites that emphasized his sporting abilities. A site devoted to his interest in golf gave the following information: ” Henry Francis Newdigate Jourdain was born in 1872, the fourth son of Rev. F. Jourdain. His mother was an O’Farrell from Portumna. He served in the South African Boer War with the Connaught Rangers and took part in the action at Spion Kop, Ladysmith and Colense. He returned to Galway in 1921. His book Ranging Memories is the regimental history of the Connaught Rangers. As well as his keen interest in golf he was also an enthusiastic hockey player and was appointed Captain of the revived Galway Hockey Club in 1911. In 1963, he was elected an honorary life member of the club. He died in 1966 at the age of ninety four.” This information was derived from a description about Renmore Barracks where a 9 hole golf course had been built ca. 1895 and Jourdain supplied information that he and 3 Galway friends were the first to play golf there. The only photo I have found of him (described as Lt. Col. H.F.N. Jourdain. Irish Life, 6th August 1915) is seen in Figure 3.

A genealogical Jourdain site confirms that Henry Francis Newdigate Jourdain was born in 1872 and he was the fourth born son of 10 children, 5 girls and 5 boys (but parents were not named) and he married Molly O’Farrell (and other spouses). Two of his sisters first names started with an ‘E’, Eleanor F. (1863-1924) and Emily Margaret (1876-1951), and either one of them is of probable relevance later.

In a description of the ‘Norham Gardens Lawn Tennis Club 1927-1935′, the commanding officer of the Connaught Rangers, Lt. Col. H.N.F. Jourdain and his wife moved to Fyfield House in Fyfield Road, Oxford (as on the cover) in 1922, where his sister Miss E. Jourdain (principal of St. Hugh’s College, Oxford) already lived. He was keen to play on lawn tennis courts, bought the land, and he and his gardener laid six courts. He continued to play tennis well into his eighties. He had also played soccer, hockey and cricket previously for his regiment.

As Christmas 1899 approached, the Boer War was raging furiously in South Africa. One of the officers involved in this war was Lt. Col. H.F.N. Jourdain of the Connaught Rangers, who had a considerable amount of men from Galway and Conacht under his command. On 23 December 1899, a list of dead and wounded soldiers was published in The Galway Express. Lieutenant Jourdain was listed among the dead, however Jourdain did survive the war and later resumed his command at Renmore Barracks, where he played golf on the 9 hole course.

On August 4, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. The leader of the nationalist party, John Redmond on the previous day in the House of Commons suggested that Britain could safely withdraw its forces from Ireland and leave the defence of the country in the hands of the Irish Volunteers. On the 4 August a telegram arrived at Renmore Barracks and Lt. Col. H.F.N. Jourdain immediately began to send out mobilisation orders around the province to the Galway Rangers. By the end of October 1914, due to the high casualty rates, Renmore Barracks was struggling to supply troops for the 1st and 2nd Battalions Connaught Rangers. In a description of The Tenth Irish division in Gallipoli, it is written: “That the battalion acquitted itself so well was in the main due to the manner in which it had been trained by its Commanding Officer, Lieut.-Colonel Jourdain. He thoroughly understood the men with whom he had to deal, and had instilled into all ranks a rigid but sympathetic discipline which proved invaluable in time of trial. He was unwearied in working for the comfort of his men, and was repaid not only by their respect and affection, but by a well-earned C.M.G.

Jourdan is best remembered for his official three volume illustrated history of the Connaught Rangers, the Irish regiment with a fighting record second to none in the British army from its formatiom in 1793 to its disbanding in 1922, by Lieut.-Colonel H.F.N. Jourdain, C.M.G. and Edward Fraser, the cover of which is seen in Figure 4.

Mudamuckla [Aboriginal for ‘a water supply’] is an unlikely place (red arrow) for the writer of the letter to Jourdain to reside, and one wonders if he might have been one of the Connaught Rangers, or less likely a relative. The closest town to it is Ceduna, which lies 35km west of it a with a population of ca. 2,000, and Adelaide is 689km southeast of it (Figure 5).

Categories: Armed Forces, Postmarks