Its hard to think that it's over ten years ago, that our friends the Khaki Chums recreated the historic Easter Sunday Church Service in the caves under Arras, just as 2nd Suffolk did, 90 years before. Another highlight of the tour, was a visit to the D.C.L.I. (Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry) hair cutting salon in the Rue de Temple, where the chums posed for a haircut outside a house which amazingly stills bears the painted sign "Hair Cutting Saloon" on the brickwork. Here Lance Corporal 'Jack' Johnson 'trims' Private Andy Fisk's hair as he sits on an upturned .303 ammunition box, whilst a worried Private Bob Steadman looks on awaiting his turn! A great and memorable tour, that also saw a visit to the chalk caves a Maison Blanche at Neuville-Vitasse, and a chance to get inside the great wood at Oppy. This year sees the fourth and final battlefield tour with our friends in the Suffolk Branch of the Western Front Association, and after this, maybe we should run a dedicated "all fronts" tour to the battlefields of France and Flanders like we did back in 2013. Mmm, better start planning.....
A Warning To The Curious
Having been to a military fair today and encountered a fair amount of very clever, reproduction cloth insignia, we felt inspired to offer a gentle note of caution to Suffolk collectors old and new. Let's be honest, genuine, original, untouched, badged battledress is rare. In over twenty five years of collecting, we have only ever seen five original examples of correctly badged Suffolk battledress blouses being offered for sale, but we must have seen at least fifteen with reproduction insignia that were purporting to be 'genuine' examples. Part of the problem is that original cloth insignia is now fetching astronomic prices on the open market, giving certain unscrupulous dealers a market for providing collectors with very good, highly accurate reproductions of these highly sought-after badges. One combination which has appeared on the market in the past few years, has been the combination worn by the 1st Battalion during World War Two. For those of us who have original examples, the difference is light and dark, but for a younger generation of collectors, who may not have seen an original example for comparison, it is difficult to tell the two apart, especially since the forgeries are now so good as to use period materials which even have age-old moth damage. In order not to get caught out by these forgeries, we would offer two simple questions that you should ask before purchasing such items. First, is it too perfect? and second, is the same thread used in all sections of the badge? Soldiers, even those with the greatest sewing skills, never produce anything as perfect as the examples being offered for sale, and as men moved between units, some elements of the badges remained, when others were replaced, leading to varying degrees of wear. It is also important to note, that some items would have been produced at a regimental level and other would have been divisional issue, so the chance of identical thread being used for all the badges is minimal. Also, with the exception of the 2/East Yorks, there is no documentary evidence that the 1st Battalion ever sewed all their badges onto a patch of serge to be sewn onto the battledress blouse. This custom of sewing patches complete with insignia, may have grown up from the recent re-enactment groups who have adopted such a practice so that insignia can be removed quickly for those portraying multiple units. In conclusion, don't be fooled by these badges and if you are in doubt, please do contact us. With years of experience in this area of collecting, we are always happy to advise about such things.
The Late Ted Phillips: ITFC Legend & Suffolk National Serviceman
It is unfortunate to open 2018 with yet more sad news, but this morning we heard of the passing of former Ipswich Town footballer, Ted Philips, who played for the club between 1953 and 1964. Ted’s legendary footballing career with Ipswich Town is already well-known, but what is lesser known is that like most of his generation, Ted completed his National Service with the Suffolk Regiment between 1951 and 1953. Born at Gromford near Snape, Ted completed his basic training at Blenheim Camp, Bury St. Edmunds, before being posted to the 1st Battalion, then on operations in Malaya. In a curious fate of Army life, both Ted, and his younger brother George (known as ‘Lucky’), served at the same time in the Battalion, along with Bernie ‘Phil’ Philips who was also in the same platoon as Ted. Confusingly, mail was always distributed to the wrong Phillips and in desperation, the Regiment took to calling them all by the last two digits of their Army Service Numbers – Ted was therefore known as “Phillips 99” Ted's strength was not only in his legs. He was the only man in B Company who could fire the grenade-firing EY rifle from the shoulder; a weapon that was designed to be fired from a kneeling position on the ground (due to its ferocious recoil). After operations with 4 Platoon, B Company, Ted returned home and went onto the reserve list. After a scout spotted him playing at Leiston Town, he was offered a contract at Ipswich in 1953. He initially refused, as the wages offered were less that he was then earning as a gardener, but after much negotiation, he accepted a higher wage together with travelling expenses from Leiston to Ipswich to train with the team. Ted’s T.A. service - which lasted until 1956, sometimes caused great difficulties when he was playing for the Town. On one occasion, he could not make annual camp as the team were playing away, but he was granted a special dispensation and instead, made his time up instead, by teaching football at the Army School of Physical Training for a fortnight. Ted would go on to achieve greatness playing at Ipswich Town alongside his friend Ray Crawford. Between 1953 and 1964, he made over 250 appearances for the team and scored over 150 goals. The clubs third highest scorer, he retained the record of most goals scored for one club in one season; 46 in the 1956-57 season. He was also internationally known as having the ‘hardest shot in modern football’ with the East Anglian Daily Times noting in 1962 that "It is an undisputed fact that he is the best kicker of a dead ball in the game." After his football career had ended, he played cricket for Suffolk and when he retired to live in Colchester, was a regular attendee at Essex Cricket Club matches at their ground at Chelmsford. In 2013 with the help of the Friends of The Suffolk Regiment, Ted was brought back together with his former 4 Platoon comrades on the BBC daytime programme ‘Real Lives Reunited’ where he met his old chums Fred Mullinder and Ray Burwood. A larger than life character, but very modest man, he entertained us greatly in the two hours we spent with him during the filming of the programme in London. Ted had been in failing health and had suffered greatly with dementia in the last few years. Our thoughts are with his family and his many devoted fans, at this time.
A Very Happy New Year
A very Happy New Year to all Friends. 2017 seems set to be another great year fro the Friends of The Suffolk Regiment. A trip to the Western Front to follow the actions of 1918, a second tour to Normandy in June to cover the actions of the 1st Battalion in 1944 and much more. There will hopefully be a big Regimental event that we'll invite you all to later this year, and we hear that a new Suffolk Regiment book is being written at the moment too. There are projects worthy of support and we'll tell you of these shortly. A New Year and a new start, but we do need more people to join us. The Friends and its praised publications can only survive if new members join us so please, don't put it off any longer. Download a membership form today and hop on board. A years membership is less than a week's newspapers (well, depending on what you read!)
Main Picture: Men of 'C' Company, 1st Suffolk are given free cigarettes when they disembarked at Valetta, November 1937.