The Battle of St. Julien began on the morning of 24th April 1915 with the German army firing chlorine gas canisters at Canadian forces to the west of the village. The shocked allied troops soaked their handkerchiefs in urine and held them to their noses. The bodies of those that died turned black within 15 minutes. The Germans took St. Julien.
The next day, the York and Durham Brigade units of the Northumberland Division counter-attacked but failed to recapture the village. The 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment formed part of the York and Durham Brigade and included a number of young men from the Yorkshire coast who had enlisted in Scarborough shortly after the war began. Local newspapers would identify them as The Scarborough Terriers. (The Northumberland Division was the first Territorial brigade to go into action in the Great War.) The Canadians called them “The Yorkshire Gurkhas” and D Company was known as “Filey Company”.
Amongst their number was Thomas JENKINSON, 19, and during the counter-attack of the 25th, he was killed while attempting to capture an isolated farmhouse to the south-east of St Julien, at Fortuyn, now Fortuinhoek. His regiment had been in France for just one week.
On the 26th, three battalions of the Northumberland Brigade attacked St Julien and gained a brief foothold before being forced back, having suffered 1,954 casualties.
Tom Jenkinson has no known grave and is commemorated at Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. The plaque in St Oswald’s church (inset) places him with the wrong regiment. (The 5th East Yorks was a Cyclists Battalion that remained in England for the duration of the war, guarding the home front.) The family headstone in the churchyard tells us where he died, and his parents, Thomas Robert and Elizabeth Towse née SHEPHERD, named their house in Mitford Street “Fortuyn”.
Also Pte. THOMAS JENKINSON 5th Yorks. grandson of the above
killed in action at Fortuyn, France, April 25th 1915, aged 19 years
‘Out in France in an unknown grave
Our dear soldier son lies sleeping
For his King and Country his life he gave
Into his Saviour’s keeping.’
Tom is not yet on FamilySearch Tree but you can find him at Filey Genealogy & Connections. He was a third cousin once removed to Richard Baxter COWLING, lost from Emulator in 1919, (Sunday’s post).