At 6.15 am on the morning of the 10th March, 4th Suffolk left their billets in the village of Lestrem along with the rest of the Julladur Brigade and proceeded via road, the distance of a mile to Vieille Chapelle, arriving there about an hour later.
At around 7.30am, a furious bombardment was brought down on the German front line trenches by the British artillery. It was the precursor to a major attack going in against the German trenches in front of the village of Neuve Chapelle.
At 8.40am, news came down the line that the German first line trenches had been taken and shortly afterwards, it was reported that the village church was in British hands. The attack it seemed was going according to plan. Later at 10.15am, further news was received to say that the German second line trenches had been captured an hour before. Everything on the British side was running to schedule.
Around noon, orders were received to move the Battalion with the rest of the Brigade, to Richebourg and to remain there to await further instructions. The Battalion had been brought up in readiness to support the major British attack that had gone in that morning, but with its early and unquallified success, their support was no longer needed. As they began their journey back to billets, they passed the first of many batches of German prisoners being sent back behind the lines. Their weary expressions and dishevelled appearance, did much to raise the men’s morale.
For one Suffolk Territorial, that evening he penned the penultimate entry to a diary he had been keeping in a small notebook since the Battalion left Colchester on the 6th November; “Marched to Vie Chapelle later to Richebourg. Lied in support first day attack on Neuve Chapelle, later moved closer up. Layed in ruined house for night.”
For No. 2309, Private F.J. Todd, the next day would leave him with a permanent reminder of the battle of Neuve Chapelle.
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.