JEAN MARIE JOURDAIN
|Jean Marie JOURDAIN (1916)|
|( J.M Jourdain Collect.)|
J.M JOURDAIN was born in Brittany (France) at "La Forêt-Fouesnant, Finistère department" in 1896, January, 14.
At the start of 1915, he is called up and joins troops in the 93rd Regiment of Infantry at "La Roche-Sur-Yon". He gets there a basic training in the contingent of new recruits for three months.
Like other young men of the "1896 class", he discovers the reality of the war at Verdun. His battalion fights in many areas: Thiaumont, the "Ravin des Vignes", the "bois du Chênois", La Laufée, Damloup, the "bois de Caurrières", the "Côte du Poivre" , the "Mort-homme".
During the large German offensive at the "Chemin des Dames", he is captured by the enemy on 1918 May, 27. Taken out in Germany, he works in a quarry at Kassel (Ruhr region). Free again, three months after the armistice, he reaches Flessingue, the Dutch harbour on the Escaut river. Then he comes back to Brest (Brittany) by sea, with an old Mauser gun, a famous model used by the German army, and the pictures set displayed in these pages.
Unfortunately, some months after his return in Brittany, a renal tuberculosis is diagnosed. During the year 1924, by a combination of circumstances, he is operated and saved with the science of the famous french urologist surgeon Maurice Heitz-Boyer (1876-1950). By this recovery, an indefectible friendship is born between the doctor and his patient.
In spite of his age, all these events of the Great War will be deeply engraved in his memory until his death in June 1979.
THE 93rd REGIMENT OF INFANTRY
Called up on August 2, 1914, the 93rd Regiment of Infantry (R.I) leaves its garrison of La Roche-Sur-Yon on August 6, 1914. Six days later, it is under fire at Maissin near Bouillon-Paliseul in Belgium.
The Colonel officer summerizes the first battle like this: in the affair of August 22, in front of Maissin, the 93rd R.I engaged its three battalions from 1 p.m to 7 p.m. At this time, all the area around Maissin was under control, after the complete evacuation of the German troops. Called back by the brigade commander, the 93rd R.I leaves Maissin to fall again into lines on the shelf, and then it bivouacked in the southeast border of the wood of Ban.
All this day long, all ranks and troop men made more than their duty. The colonel commander is happy about this fact.
If this first action had a positive effect in the sector of the 93rd R.I, defending the northeast borderline was not won, neither easy. In fact, in spite of the neutrality of Belgium, Germany was suddenly threatening all the French position and deployments.
No other choice in this situation, only a large retreat of our troops was possible towards the Marne River and the district of Fère-Champenoise where the 93rd R.I turn round again and push back enemy at Ecury-Le-Repos: this is the Marne River victory. Now the regiment is harrying German troops, swept back to the east. On September 12, the 93rd R.I reaches Mourmelon, but exhausted by the previous events, it stops the pursuit, this exciting phase of the battle.
After some quiet days, on September 28, the 93rd R.I is in Albert (Somme department). French as German troops try their best to outflank mutually by the northwest: this is the "race to the sea". The 93rd R.I stops enemy at "La Boisselle" on September 28, then at Hamel and Beaumont on November 28. From this period, the situation is stabilizing; the war of trenches begins.
From December 1914 until June 1915, the regiment settles on the high lands looking down upon "l'Ancre", in the sector of Hebuterne. It beats back some attack attempts from the enemy, when, on June 7 an order is given to liberate the farm of "Touvent", a place well protected by the Germans. After a violent artillery action, some minutes before 5 p.m., the second battalion throwes himself into the fray, just followed by the first one. This unforgettable fight begun in an atmosphere of dust and smoke: each troop man was rushing resolutely with the eyes fixed on his own assigned objective, the hands clutching weapon firmly. Our troops moved forwards on four rows, aligned as in the parade. The Germans were entrenched in their shelters during the shelling, trying to go out in vain. Our assaulting waves walked on while the support units were cleaning trenches. They settled on the objectives in less than twenty minutes. Prisoners were flowing from all around.
Sure of an attack contingency, the enemy was completely helpless, so fast and strong was this new assault. All the counter attacks were pushed back. During four days and three nights, the fight raged and then a quiet period returned. The enemy was accepting his own defeat. The regiment stayed in the region until July 21, sometimes on the lines, sometimes at rest, giving to our British allies well-organised positions.
Back in the Breteuil district, the regiment has been moved by railway to the Champagne area to prepare the next big offensive.
On the 25th of September, at the "Butte du Mesnil", in hard conditions, attack was launched after a too inefficient previous gunfire.
The way out of this attack was found closed with practically unbroken barbed wires. Our infantrymen, who had turned out to reach the German trenches, were forced to retreat when the evening came.
After a necessary reorganisation, the regiment attacked again on the 6th October with enormous sacrifices. In spite of the violent reactions of the enemy, the battle went on. The ground has to be gained meter by meter. Some quiet days later, from 24th October to 31st October, operations started again with the same rhythm. From this date, the silence, unknown since too much time, was settling down all around.
The 93rd I.R, exhausted with this gigantically struggle, started on 25th September, was carried on the Marne River area, to be reorganised.
The captain De Lattre de Tassigny, coming from the 12th Dragoons Company, had rejoined the 93rd I.R during the first Champagne battle. Commanding officer, he will never leave his new regiment where he met many men from his department. Promoted Company commander-in-chief, he will remember all the glorious days passed in this regiment, prescribing his reconstruction in the year 1946.
In the first days of December, the 93rd I.R joined the first lines in the region of Tahure. He will stay there until the 22nd April, and then after about one month in the quiet area of Mourmelon, he left the Champagne on the 24th May 1916 for Verdun.
From the 9th to 13th June during five long days, the 93th I.R in the region of "Thiaumont" pushed back assaults from an enemy exasperated with a high resistance, so hard to overcome. Human losses were important, but the commanding officer will later say proudly: the behaviour of the three corps was praiseworthy during these five days, no lapses to deplore, only stoicism bravery and innumerable self sacrifices.
On the 14th of June the regiment was relieved. The reconstitution was achieved in the district of Bar-Le-Duc. At the end of July, he rejoined the lines in a quiet area at the "Côtes de Meuse", near Watronville. Though, in September, a new tactical operation was worked up to retake the "Fort de Vaux". In the night of the 4th to the 5th November, the Damloup village was liberated by surprise thanks to the boldness of a patrol.
After a short rest period, from 30th November onwards,
the 93rd I.R went on the lines once again, in the north area of Douaumont. On
the 11th of January he took the control of the "Côte du Poivre". Later,
the regiment, relieved on the 14th February, reaches Vitry-Le-François
and then the Mailly's camp.
On the 28th of march in the morning, it was embarked in troop trucks to the district of Soissons.
The enemy had just retreat himself to the north and was going back slowly to the Ailette River. In this situation, an order was given to continue the progression. On the 31st of March, the 93rd I.R takes hold of the Courson's wood; on the 1st of April, the Quincy's wood; on the 2nd, the Landicourt's village, but once again positions were stabilizing.
Fifteen days later, the regiment took place in front of the "Chemin Des Dames" in the area of Troyon's village, to prepare an action for the 16th of April. From the first day, the first German lines were taken. After a lot of transformations to improve the organisation, on the 23rd of April, the attack started again: troops fought step by step. The Cerny's village was reached on the 5th of May but the enemy does not acknowledge defeat. On the 8th of May, with an audacious action, a strong patrol neutralized a counter attack, fight went on without truce nor rest. Troops were so tired that the relief was indispensable. In the night of the 9th to the 10th May, the regiment was turned towards the Compiègne district.
From July to September 1917, the 93rd I.R kept the lines near Saint-Quentin on the left side of the Somme River.
On the 23rd of September, he came back to the "Chemin Des Dames", protecting the high ridge upon Ostel village, a region always effervesced: harassing gun shots, unceasing raids, improvement of the trenches.
On the 23rd of October after a short period of rest, he took part in the attack that gave us back all the crest of the "Chemin Des Dames" (25th October), and the north slope to the "Aisne et Oise" canal. In the night of the 4th to the 5th of November, a new relief was achieved. The 93rd stays in the same region until 7th January 1918.
On the 6th of January, after two mentions at the order of army, through the cases of "Touvent farm" on 7th June 1915 and "Cerny" on 5th May 1917, the shoulder braid with the Military Cross colours, was awarded to the regiment by the General officer Commander-in-Chief.
From February to May 1918, the battalions kept the area of "la Royère", meet the first U.S companies and helped to complete their instruction by a first stay on the lines.
But since few times, some indications let think of a future attack from the enemy on the "Chemin Des Dames". The operation was launched on the 27th May with an unprecedented violence. The Germans succeeded to retake the entire shelf; the defenders outflanked by the number of enemies, were beaten and shot on place.
Assaulted from everywhere, Once again the 93rd I.R had demonstrated that his abnegation could reach the highest sacrifice: On the 27th in the evening, only 16 officers, 15 warrant officers 142 infantrymen were alive. During the Aisne river retreat, the fragments of the regiment regrouped in two drill companies still kept the attacks. Later, an official order arrived to withdraw from the battlefield.
On the 1st of June, the last survivors of these fights started to walk back towards the district where the company had to be reorganised.
After his reconstitution, the 93rd I.R was transferred in "the Vosges" until 1918. The arrival of fresh supplies, especially the raw recruited from the class 1918 permitted to complete the three battalions.
The raids were succeeding without break, officers and troop men made acquaintance together, and those who had never seen the fire before harden themselves to war. On the 3rd of September, the regiment was moved by trucks to rest at "Vitry-Le-François".
Deserving of his ancients, he will take part in the offensive of Champagne and distinguishes himself once again on the 29th of September at 10 a.m. with the support of the tanks. The ground was won step-by-step, attacks and counter attacks were succeeding. We have to wait October 24th to pass the enemy positions on the Py's brook, the famous yellow line. The Germans were put to flight; tiredness and dangers declined progressively in rapture of the chase, until the 7th of October.
After a short rest period at "Vitry-Le-François", the 93rd will join the front once again to take part to the last fights that will expel Germans out of France. The right side of the Aisne River was won in the night of the 5th to the 6th November, and on the 9th, the first battalion advanced guard is in front of Mézières.
All the bridges on the Meuse River were destroyed. Though,
the river was crossed with a footbridge. All night long, everybody worked to
build a passage over the canal, and the day of the 10th November, in spite of
the enemy raging and hold at bay, was employed to repair thoroughfares for a
future larger offensive.
This attack didn't take place.
On the 11th of November, the enemy signed the armistice with unconditional surrender. Then, the 93rd achieved this four-year long giant struggle that had permitted to add three victories to his flag. Although dearly acquired, the victory of 1918 was shading the defeat of 1870, and brought us back the Alsace and the Lorraine, provinces apart from the mother country for more than a half-century, and was giving back an unrivalled prestige to France.