Captain (Major) Victor Richard TAHOURDIN (Adjutant)
Captured: 24 August 1914 Repatriated: 14 June 1918
Personal: Victor was born on 18th May 1881 at 9 Upper Cloister, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, where his father, Rev. Richard Tahourdin, was Honorary Chaplain to Queen Victoria at St. George’s Chapel. (It is believed in the family that he was tactfully named after the boss!) [1881 Census RG 11/1323]
Victor’s mother was Julia Elizabeth (née Maxwell) and Victor had two older brothers, Spencer Maxwell [see Footnote below] and William de Bas.
William enrolled in the Indian Civil Service in 1899 but died in Mehipur, India (now Bangladesh) after just 2 years.
The 1901 Census (RG 13/1026) shows that Richard had moved to become Vicar of St. Mary’s Church, Twickenham, London, and Victor, his parents and 3 domestic servants were living at Neville House, London Road, Twickenham.
Victor was educated at Wellington College (postcard – left – c. 1910), with Eric Jackson from 1896-1898 although they were in different houses, and then at Sandhurst.
By 1911 Richard had enlisted and was enumerated with the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, in Ireland.
Victor’s father, Richard, died on 1st February 1915, at 62 Evelyn Gardens, South Kensington, London, whilst his son was a prisoner-of-war. His widow, Julia, died, aged 67, on 18th April 1921 at 12 Evelyn Gardens. Her estate of £25,295 went to Victor. (This has an equivalent value of about £1,600,000 today – 2023)
On 1st December 1923 Victor married his cousin Veronica Joan Price at St. Peter’s Church, Cranley Gardens, London (right). (Victor’s mother, Julia Elizabeth Maxwell, was the sister of Veronica’s mother, Ellen Florence Maxwell.)
Victor was active on the Winchester Rural District Council for 13 years, enjoyed shooting grouse in Scotland, family sailing holidays in Suffolk and apparently living a leisured middle class family life in Hampshire.
The 1939 Register shows that during WWII, as “Major Tahourdin“, he ran the Home Guard in his village.
Victor died of lung cancer, aged 68, on 2nd July 1949 at the Old Rectory House, Bramdean. His widow, Veronica, lived until 30th May 1977, when she died in Brighton, aged 81.
Military Service: Apparently, Victor joined the Cheshires because a friend of his from school had joined them, that friend was almost certainly Eric Jackson.
Victor’s mess nickname was Polly. Possibly because he was a good mimic? He was Commissioned 2nd/Lieutenant in the 3rd (Militia) Battalion Cheshire Regiment on 11th January 1900 (London Gazette, 23rd January, p.433).
On 11th August 1900 he attained the same rank in the 1st Battalion and was promoted to Lieutenant on 19th February 1902.
Further promotion, to Captain, came on 13th February 1908. He was appointed Adjutant to the 1st Battalion on 1st October 1913. (Whilst a prisoner-of-war Victor was promoted to Major on 1st September 1915.)
Victor was one of the 18 Officers of the 1st Battalion that set sail for India from Southampton on 20th September 1904 along with over 600 NCOs and men, arriving at Bombay on the 14th October.
The 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, was in Londonderry at the outbreak of the Great War, facing in fact the prospect of civil war in Ireland.
The photograph of Officers taken at the time (above) shows Victor in the centre. Behind him, on the right, is Lieut. H. C. Randall (taken prisoner at Audregnies) and behind, left, is Lieut. C. A. Campbell (killed in action on the same day.)
The 15 Brigade was entirely occupied with the Irish problem when, on the 4th August to everyone’s surprise, orders were received to mobilise for war in Europe. The War Diary for 14th August 1914 reads, in part: “9.15 a.m. Arrived at Belfast, marched to York Docks awaiting embarkation. 3.30 p.m. Embarked on Anchor Liner S.S. “Massilia”, and put to sea under sealed orders.”
On the morning of 23rd August 1914, the British Expeditionary Force met and engaged the enemy at Mons and the following day was undertaking a fighting retreat against a force of four German regiments.
The 15th Brigade, consisting of 1st Norfolk, 1st Bedford, 1st Cheshire, and 1st Dorset, were ordered to prepare a position in rear and in reserve around Dour. But on the morning of the 24th the order came to send them into action to hold up the enemy advance whilst the remainder of 5th Division withdrew. Both Battalions, 1/Norfolk and 1/Cheshire, marched from Dour to Audregnies and at about 11.00 a.m.
As part of the Headquarters group of the Battalion, Victor was most likely stationed in the farmhouse (left) on the Audregnies – Élouges sunken road, which was taken over as Battalion HQ.
At about 3.45 p.m. Lt. Col. Boger set out from HQ to recce the situation.
“As he went on his way along the road he ordered each group he came across to retire. He had just given such an order to 12 platoon, ‘C’ Company when he was wounded severely enough to be put out of action.
Capt. Tahourdin (Adjutant) who had been with Lt. Col. Boger, but lost touch, was captured by the Germans.” (Source: ‘Ever Glorious’ – Bernard Rigby)
By 6.30 p.m. on the 24th, However, every line of retreat had been closed and Major Chetwynd-Stapleton gave the order to cease fire. Of the 25 officers and 952 other ranks of the 1st who had been present that morning only 7 officers and 200 other ranks remained and these figures include those on duty elsewhere than Audregnies.
.…. a .pdf file giving Lt. Matterson’s full account of the Battle, supplied by his daughter. [Source: “Prison in Paradise” unpublished memoir of Major Eric Archer Jackson, 2 i/c ‘C’ Company]
Prisoner of War Records show that from 1st September 1914 to 24th November 1914 Victor was a POW at Torgau. ICRC record state (Fort Zinnia) though O’Rorke says Bruckenhopf (Source: ‘In the hands of the enemy‘ – B. G. O’Rorke)
On 26th November 1914 he was transferred to Burg (right) with Major Chetwynd-Stapylton. Lt. Matterson and Captain Dugmore.
On 5th June 1915 he was at Mainz with Lt. I. Fairweather and on 31st July at Heidelberg with Captain Shore. On 30th August 1916 on a central Lazarett list. (presumable ill).
The 27th November 1917 saw Victor, with Captain E.A. Jackson and Shore, on a list for transfer to Switzerland where he went to Montreux along with Shore. There is no record of any injury or illness but at the time there was an agreement to send all long-term internees to a neutral country. The story that was handed down to his granddaughter was of Victor, when freed in 1918, of him shaving in Champagne!
After the War Victor continued to serve with the Regiment in Ireland in the battles with the Irish Republican Army.
He retired from duty on 1st April 1922 after 23 years active service, got married and set up home in Hampshire.
Victor died of lung cancer on 2nd July 1949 at the Old Rectory House, Bramdean, Hampshire (modern photo left).
Victor’s son, Peter Richard, went to Wellington College and then, in 1949, began music studies at Trinity College of Music, London.
He graduated in 1952 and spent some years performing in Britain, Europe and Canada. In 1956 Peter married Barbara Ker Wilson, an author and editor. They had two daughters, and in 1964 the family emigrated to Australia.
Peter was appointed visiting composer to the University of Adelaide. Later he developed an interest in electronic music and moved to the University of Melbourne. After a distinguished career Peter died in Melbourne on 28th July 2009, aged 80.