In the Middle East, the capture of the El Arish redoubt by 5th Suffolk was a decisive factor in the overall success of the Third Battle of Gaza.
With sweeping success, the Battalion pressed onwards to wards its overall goal. The Holy city of Jerusalem and the then capital of the Midde East. Its capture had become a point of fixation and fascination for the then British Prime Ministers who was determined that it should be captured as soon as possible before Christmas Day. Like a latter-day crusader, he wished to capitalise on the success of the initial stages of the Cambrai offensive (where he had ordered church bells to be rung in England in jubilation) and announce the news of its capture by the Allies, giving as he said in Parliament, a "Christmas Present for the British People'"
5th Suffolks part in the overall assault on the city started in a heavy rainstorm which soaked the Battalion positions making it very uncomfortable for the men. At midnight of the 20th November, ordered were received that the Battalion was to provide a Guard of Honour in preparation for the final assault and eventual surrender of the great city. Hastily the CO selected his best and smartest looking men and the party under Captain E.D. Walton, set off for the city. "The Turk had decided to put up a fight for Jerusalem" wrote Wolton, and so within 24 hours, they had returned.
Placed in reserve, the Battalion could see the city from its new positions and all seemed to be intact. on the 26th the advance continued. Shelling and fire from the flanks, as well as from overhead by enemy aircraft was high and no anti-aircraft guns were readily available. Early December, saw the Battalion back in reserve, being kept they hoped, for the final advance upon the city but regretfully it was not to be.
On the 9th December, two Sergeants of the 2/19th London Regiment met the official delegation with the note of the city's surrender and two days later on 11th December, as the Battalion took over new positions at Beit Nabala, General Sir Edmund Allenby proudly marched into the city to formally accept its surrender.
The Battalion's part in the final advance may have been small, but in the initial stages, they paved the way for the advance to continue. They had given that present to the people and for an unfortunate administrative error, they would have been rewarded for it, but for a careless clerk at Brigade HQ, who mislaid over 25 recommendations for Honours and Awards for the Battalion.
Modest to the end; as was the trait of the Suffolk soldier, 5th Suffolk sought no glory, they were just proud to have been part of it. The motto of "Stabilis" or "steady", lived on.
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.