Today we spotted on the Bury Free Press website that explosives and associated material had been found during landscaping works at Dettingen Way in Bury St. Edmunds. The image here shows what was uncovered and dealt with by the authorities, but it brought the question, how did they get there? well, Blenheim Camp; the satellite establishment to The Depot was just over the road and looking at the shape and style of these items, other than a 2" Mortar casing, they look very 1960s in appearance. They are most probably the last unwanted bits of 'junk' from the Camp Armoury when it closed in the late 1970s and was given over to industrial development and the building of a new Territorial Army centre, which still exists in further along the Newmarket Road. Blenheim was built just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, primarily as a camp for processing teh newly called-up Militiamen. During the war, it was taken over briefly by the ATS before moving out to civilian billets in Grove Park, but its real hey-day was during National Service era when hundreds of recruits passed though to serve with the 1st Battalion overseas and other East Anglian units around the globe. Its wooden huts were demolished in the late 1960s, with only one hut surviving as the Royal Anglian Club in teh carpark of the new TA centre. However, panic over, they've been dealt with - but what else remains to be found?
Image courtesy of Suffolk News
Well Done Harry!
Over on our facebook page, friend of the Friends, Mark Brennan, informed us that Hadleigh resident Harry hughes, has been nominated to carry the torch in Hadleigh section of the forthcoming Festival of Suffolk on May 21st. Harry, who served first with the 8th Battalion, but then landed in France and joined 1st Suffolk just after their battle at the Chateau de la Londe in late June 1944 until 1947, when he was demobbed in Palestine. He served through through becoming a Battalion Footballer. Well Done Harry! we're delighted that the Suffolk Regiment will feature in the Queens Platinum Jubilee.
With most grateful thanks to Mark Brennan for the above image of Harry in his front garden resplendent with 'Regimental' tulips!
Whilst leafing through a few files tonight, we came across a few photographs taken at Razmak on the Northwest Frontier in 1940. Whilst their comrades in the 1st Battalion Europe were feeling the might of the German War machine, on the other side of the world, the 2nd Battalion were manning the lonely outpost of Empire in what is now modern-day Pakistan. Outside of the walled camp at Razmak, the Battalion were split between hill piquets - each with a native guide or 'Kassander' where men exchanged pot shots with the tribesmen opposite in a curious 'live and let live' tribal war that had begun over a sixty years before. In this photo here of men of 'A' Company getting ready to set off for their hill fort, which usually started with a run across open country, before they signalled back that they had reached their position safely (hence the Company flag), then from then onwards until relieved, signal flags as carried by the man on the right, were used to communicate with base. It was not until very early 1941 that the first primitive portable radio sets were brought into use at Razmak. Still wearing the older webbing equipment and service dress, though here more comfortable woollen pullovers and cap comforters are seen, they remained in this curious hill station until 1941 when they were withdrawn back into India to be used for 'internal Security' operations, before training for war in the Burmese jungles. Razmak was an odd period at the end of the Regiment's colonial soldiering before the war with the Japanese changed the position forever and one that deserves more research for a future magazine article.
A Snapshot In Time
Today, we were sent this rather excellent photograph of a new recruit of the 3rd Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, taken at Felixstowe in 1915. The photograph, which we believe features Private Joseph 'Jed' Finch, and offers a real 'snapshot in time' of the moment when the first item of khaki service dress was issued to the new recruits of Kitcheners Army in early 1915. If you look in detail, you will see that his trousers appear to be of 'post office blue' serge and contrast with his new jacket of the simplified pattern in khaki. Therefore he received his jacket ahead of his trousers. Supply of uniforms and equipment were flat out in 1914-15 equipping both the Army on active service, and the thousands of new recruits that had volunteered for service after Lord Kitcheners appeal to raise a new army. He already has his khaki service dress cap; usually the first thing to be issued, and he already has his 'B5' studded boots, but khaki puttees have not yet been issued to his, nor a spare belt for 'walking out'. Such photographs were taken as men proudly wished to send a snapshot home to their loved ones in their new uniform and he does at least have a 'walking out cane' tucked under his arm (though this may be a photographers prop!). This could be No 7735, Private Joseph Finch who proceeded overseas with 1st Suffolk in January 1915. This would make sense for a Felixstowe photographer, for the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion were stationed here throughout the war, and it was they who furnishing numerous drafts for service at the front, including men for 1st Suffolk in January 1915 (their having returned form Egypt in late 1915). Later, men passed through here to join numerous battalions overseas.
A Suffolk Battledress - Can you Help?
We've been sent these photographs of a Suffolk battledress blouse that appeared on a Facebook group some weeks back. We're keen to know where it originated and if anyone knows recognises it or knows the history of its original owner. Badged for the 1st Battalion (1941-47), it belonged to a captain and has had the collar faced to be worn open at the next with a shirt and tie (as correct for officers), but curiously has the red 'arm of service strip' removed from above the regimental red and yellow flash (this may also be correct as this was removed when 1/Suffolk were in Palestine), so the original owner may have served through Europe with the Battalion, or joined them later in the Middle East? We don't have anything more to go on other than the photograph, but if someone recognises it, or can point us to the current owner, then please do get in contact with us. We're always keen to see items for future articles in our magazines. Many thanks.
Three In A Week!
For Suffolk Regiment badge collectors, one of the rarest and most highly sought after badges is that of the Essex and Suffolk Cyclist Battalion. A curious cross-over unit that straddled the days before and during the Haldane Reforms, it was later split becoming the 6th (Cyclist) Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment (T.F.) Recently, there has been a spate of fake cap badges appearing on a well known auction site to this short-lived unit. These including both the bi-metal (other ranks) version, together with the bronzed (officers) version. As many of the long established badge collectors will tell you, their appearance on the market has until now, been few and far between, and often the only chance to acquire an original one, comes when a long-stablished collector, passes on and his collection is split. Therefore to see over half a dozen offered for sale in the last three months is highly suspicious and leads one to believe that sadly these are now being copied to appeal to a new generation of badge collectors who as desperate to acquire these rare badges. There have been as many a three badges listed in a single week, all of which have commanded astronomical prices, but generally the quality of these badges is poor, compared to originals that we have seen in private collections. The officers bronze versions in particular, do not carry any markings that the originals do (usually a small stamped tablet) and teh definition is not crisp as seen on finely stamped originals. For those who may never acquire an original, these are an option to fill a gap in a collection, but be aware that we believe these are all fakes, so caveat emptor.
Well Done Tim!
We heard this week that a memorial service had taken place at Framlingham College on Saturday to remember the life of Major Ken Mayhew, so served with the 1st Battalion during the Second World War. Ken who was educated at Framlingham College, was awarded the Militaire Willems-Orde; the highest Dutch military honour in 1946 for his actions in Holland in the Autumn of 1944. He remained an active 'Knight' of the Order of William and regularly returned to Holland over the years. In the 1980s through a busy life, he lost contact with the order, but was 'rediscovered' following the last Old Comrades Association pilgrimage to Holland in 2010. From then until the end of his life, he played an active role in the order. Together with the Dutch military attache from their embassy in London, and a surviving Knight of the order, Friend Tim Davis was also in attendance, carrying the Bury St. Edmunds Branch OCA Standard. We believe that Tim was the only Suffolk Regiment representative at the service, so our most sincere thanks must go to Tim for representing all of us who were not in attendance. Ken led an extraordinary long and healthy life, interspersed with moments of extreme courage under the most trying of conditions. It is only right that he should be commemorated by such a memorial service.
Lieutenant Olivey, 12th Regiment
Our web editor make no apologies for 'borrowing' the attached image from the StackExchange website, as it is a fantastic image of a junior subaltern of the 12th (East Suffolk) Regiment taken around about 1885-1890, that really deserves to be shared. An inscription on the rear indicated that it depicts Sir Walter Olivey, K.C.B., whose father also served in the Regiment, but it’s actually a photograph of his son, Lieutenant Herbert Olivey. Here, he is seen in the usual dark blue patrol jacket as seem on campaign, but with the taller and more bell-shaped officers 'Station Master' style cap, introduced in the early 1880s, replacing the shallower version worn by men of the 12th Regiment in New Zealand in the 1860s, which also had a long 'duck-bill' peak. Its badge was to remain unchanged onto the next form of The patrol jackets were were ornate in style in New Zealand, and had more elaborate 'frogging' to the front, but here, it is seen in its most simplest form, of a style gradually brought into wear with the Regiment from their time in Preston (around 1872) to the turn of the 2oth century. Herbert's father, Walter also served in the 12th Regiment being its paymaster, so there is usually confusion as to which family member is which (and we've been confused ourselves in the past as well!) Its really pleasing to see such image from the mid-Victorian period that is not often encountered, especially from such a long-serving regimental family.
8th Suffolk West Ham Fan 'Discovered'
A veteran of 8th Suffolk has popped up in the news recently on the website of Blesma; the limbless veterans charity. Burma veteran and life long West Ham United supporter, Lawrence 'Larry' Morgan will be celebrating his 100th birthday this year and features in an article on how he spotted his wife-to-be in a previous issue of Blesma's magazine. As far as we can ascertain, Larry was called up in 1941 to serve in the 8th Battalion, then stationed in Essex, before he was later transferred to the 1st Wilts in Burma, but we believe that he might have found his way back to 2nd Suffolk as there is a 'Morgan' listed as being wounded on 7 June 1944, when 2nd Suffolk were attacking the hilltop position known as 'Isaac.' We are trying to contact Blesma to arrange meeting with Larry who will be 102 years-old this year, as we believe that if this his him, then he may be the last surviving veteran of 2nd Suffolk to have fought in the action at Isaac. Please do check out the Blesma website for news of the excellent work that they undertake for limbless veterans: www.blesma.org - the charity will be 90 years old this year. With many thanks to Blesma for the image above of Larry.
New Malaya Book
We have received news from our very own Secretary, that his second book on the 1st Battalion’s part in the Malayan Emergency, which will be published in May 2022 by Pen & Sword Books. Following-on from his first book on the 1st Battalion in North West Europe (published in 2020), this book is a photo-history of their tour in Malaya between July 1949 and January 1953. It features over three-hundred photographs of the Battalion - the vast majority of which have never been published before, together with an accompanying history of the Battalion’s part in the campaign. It will be available direct from the publishers (Pen and Sword), Amazon (where you can pre-order it now!) and from all good bookshops. The eagled-eyed amongst you will have spotted the faces of Colonel Pat Hopper (left) and Friend Major Richard Wilson (right) on the front cover.
ISBN 9781399082242 (Posted: 18/02/2022)
The Hopking Archives
We spotted of late that a small archive of photographs belonging to a member of the Hopking family has been sold on eBay. Of those that were of interest were a handful relating to Lieutenant H.R. Hopking, who later commanded Second Suffolk in the Arakan and was awarded the O.B.E. Sadly those early ones that concerned his first posting in Ireland after leaving Sandhurst commanded high prices, especially since they captured the every day life of a British infantry battalion carrying out routine search at the height of the Irish Civil War. The image here was one of these sold, and looks to show men of 2nd Suffolk guarding suspected prisoners in the back of a truck in 1922 (the slogan 'Swift Justice' can be seen chalked on the bodywork). If you were the successful winner of this photo, is there any chance we could have a clearer copy of it for the Friends archives?
Canon William Lummis, MC
On a blustery Sunday, the Friends recently ventured to the small Suffolk village of Coddenham to look in its churchyard for the grave of Albert Matthews; a resident of the village who died in 1928 and was buried there. Matthews has served with the 12th Regiment in Australia and New Zealand in the 1950s and 1860s. We didn’t find his grave, but stumbled (quite literally) upon the family plot of the Lummis family and in particular the sadly overgrown and uprooted headstone of Canon William Lummis, who commanded 2nd Suffolk at very end of the Great War, and won the Military Cross for his actions. Buried together with his wife and with memorials to two of his brothers killed on active service on the Western Front alongside, Canon Lummis’ headstone bears the badges of both is Regiments; the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own) whom he joined as a ranker in 1904, and also that of the Suffolk Regiment who he was commissioned into in 1915. Lummis was later ordained and served in the Home Guard in the Second World War. He was a great Regimental Historian and did much to research and record its past. His stone is looking somewhat dirty and in the near future, the Friends will go and clean this.
Know Your Ties
We saw this fantastic reference book offered for sale last week, detailing a huge array of regimental, club and university ties, but sadly it was just too expensive for us to afford it. The Suffolk Regiment tie interested us as it showed the red and yellow stripes of the same width and also the black and white of equal widths. This was always how they were meant to be, but in more recent years, the colours varied as have the widths. We know now of only two suppliers of Suffolk Regiment ties and with tie wearing in general, becoming less and less, it's a sad fact that sooner or later, its wear will completely die out. The 1st Battalion of our successor regiment; the Royal Anglian Regiment (Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire), have adopted to wear the tie of the Royal Norfolk Regiment instead of ours, so sadly soon it may become lost to history - but not if we can help it!
'Officer X' - Revealed
Back in a previous edition of the Castle & Key, we brought you the story of how an officer of the 1st Battalion was trying to discredit and abolish the ancient custom of wearing roses on the anniversary of Minden Day and on the Monarch’s Birthday (known as the ‘Dettingen Tradition’). Thanks to a chance discovery looking for something else in the Regimental Archives we stumbled across his identity. In a letter to the then commanding officer of the 1st Battalion; Lieutenant-Colonel Van Straubenzee, the old Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Montagu, named him adding that he: “has absolutely no following in this Battalion. We are all firm believers in the Dettingen and Minden traditions” – so who was the mysterious ‘Officer X’? well you have to wait for a future edition of the Castle & Key to find out, but let's just say that he rose high in the Regiment!!!
Remembering B.S.M. Jim Palfrey, 55th Anti-Tank Regiment (S.Y.), R.A.
On New Year’s Day, one of the last known surviving members of the 55th Anti-Tank Regiment (Suffolk Yeomanry), Royal Artillery, to serve in the North West Europe campaign, passed away aged 101. James ‘Jim’ Palfrey was a pre-war member of the Duke of York’s Own, Loyal Suffolk Hussars, joining its 411 Battery based at Bury St. Edmunds in 1936. Jim served throughout the war with the Suffolk Yeomany, taking part in the bitter fighting at Fontenay-le-Pesnil, and later up in Holland during etc winter of 1944-45. After the war, he returned to his pre-war job at Greene-King breweries, and worked with them for the rest of his working life. He returned also to the Suffolk Yeomanry, continuing to serve as Battery Sergeant Major well into the 1970s, when by then, they had been merged with the Norfolk Yeomanry. He married a local girl, Olive, in 1941 and the pair enjoyed over seventy years of marriage. In his retirement, he was a keen bowls player and he played an active role in the Bury Branch of the Normandy Veterans Association and attending reunions and remembrance events up until 2021. Jim it was believed, was the last known surviving Normandy veteran who still lived in the town. Described as a “true gentleman” and a “great father” He said at the time of a Normandy veterans’ reunion about 15 years ago: ‘I don’t think many will come to my funeral as so many have gone’.”
We are most grateful to the Palfrey family for the image of Jim (via the East Anglian Daily Times), taken in Holland in 1944-45; the cold winter clearly shown by his wearing the issue leather jerkin for extra warmth. His B.S.M. badge can be seen above his sergeant's stripes, together with the famous polar bear of the 49th (West Riding) Division - of which the Suffolk Yeomanry were part of, from 1943 until 1945.
Happy New Year
A Happy New Year to all Friends.
We don't know what the next year will bring, but hopefully we have turned a corner and we can soon soon look forward to normality. The Friends will enter their fifteenth year in August, with what we hope will be a bumper edition and a free gift! - Stick with us for another year, and if you have not hey joined us, then pop along to the Membership page pronto!