Four Tauranga men died during the bloodiest period of Passchendaele - Albert Wasley, Sydney Carl Jordan, William Cunningham and Cecil Guinness. I Died in Hell tells the story of Carl Jordan through his own words and those of his friends. The exhibition included excerpts from letters written by Carl and his friends and gave attendees an insight into what these men experienced and endured during the battle. The exhibition also featured film footage from the front.
Sydney Carl Jordan, known as Carl, was the grandson of Reverend Canon Jordan, a former Mayor of Tauranga and Vicar of the Holy Trinity Church for nearly 40 years. Carl regularly visited Tauranga and we proudly claimed him as a local lad.
Underage on enlistment, Carl’s early enthusiasm for the war was clear:
‘These few moments were the most exciting of my life, they seemed like hours, at last there was a rattle of machine guns, a roar of guns, then the ground shook, the sky was ablaze, then a deafening roar, then I yelled to my section, ‘up and over boys’. Soon we were out of our trenches and close up to that curtain of fire, smoke and flying steel.’
However, by 1917 a war weary Carl longed for home and questioned the point of it all:
‘July 1917. I don’t see yet what we are fighting for, they say freedom but we are only being made bigger slaves every day to say nothing of the poor English Tommy who is treated a thousand times worse than a Hun prisoner. It is high time the whole murderous affair was over. We have got to try and believe we are winning and look cheerful but it is a hard job to do either now.’
On 6 October, Carl wrote a final message. By the time it was delivered, he was long dead.
‘My Dear Mother, just a short note before I go up the line in the morning. I am still fit and well and feeling all the better after the spell down here. According to the papers our boys are in the thick of it and carried everything before them, in a way I am not sorry I missed it. Well mother I will close with best love and Xmas Wishes from your son S Jordan’