In mid July, the 7th Battalion, still under a period of acclimatisation in the Ypres Salient, began to see its first casualties.
On the night of the 18th July 1915, a party of 2 men under the command of 2nd Lieutenant Bamkin were sent out into no-mans-land opposite Plugstreet in an attempt to try to tap the German telephone lines that ran across the top of their trenches. About half way out, the party were spotted crawling forward and a flare was launched by the Germans. All men lay dead still in no-mans-land as the Germans raked the area with machine gun fire. In this action, Lieutenant Bamkin was wounded along with another member of the party, Private Armsby. Alone in the open, the third member of the party, Private Orbell, crawled over to Lieutenant Bamkin and dragged him back to the British front line. All the time the Germans were continuously raking the area with machine guns, with Orbell receiving a slight wound to the foot. Once he'd safely delivered Bamkin into the Suffolk front line, he set off again crawling back to try and rescue Armsby. Doing the same again, he dragged him back into the front line about twenty yards to the south. Upon leaving him to receive aid, he hobbled back down the line to find out how Lieutenant Bamkin was. He had arrived too late. Bamkin had died of his wounds moments before. Hobbling back to find Armsby, it was a similar case. He too had died of his injuries.
Born in 1895 in Brixton, London, Harold Picton Bamkin came from a teaching family. After education at Dulwich College, he entered Jesus College, Oxford in July 1914. When war was declared, he found himself with the 3rd Battalion, before being posted to the 7th Battalion, with whom he proceeded overseas in May. Herbert "Bert" Armsby was a native of Ely joining 7th Suffolk soon after war was declared.
For Private J.A. "Dan" Orbell (above), it was a day of sadness. He heralded from March in Cambridgeshire and had enlisted into the Regiment with Bert Armsby; the pair having been on the same train to Bury St. Edmunds. His gallant act brought him in the first place, a field promotion to Lance Corporal, but lost him a chose chum.
However unbeknown to Orbell, the C.O. was submitting him for a gallantry award. It would however be many more months before he would receive any further news of his recommendation for Orbells deeds that day. Today Armsby and Bamkin lie side-by-side in Calvaire Military Cemetery near Ploegsteert. The epitaph on Bamkin's grave, chosen by father reads "Detur Gloria Soli Deo" - Let Glory To God Alone.
Welcome to our online 'blog' charting the history of the many Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment and the part they played in the Great War.
Starting back in March 2014, we have recorded the events of 100 years ago on the centenary of their happening.
Keep checking back to see how the Great War is progressing for the men of the Suffolk Regiment.