As November came, an eerie calm descended upon the fighting Battalion's of the Suffolk Regiment on the Western Front.
Though the guns could still be heard and the fighting was still taking place, to the east of Cambrai, close to the old fighting grounds at Le Cateau, the 2nd and 11th Battalions were in a state of flux. Though all knew that it was only a matter of time before the Germans would be sue of an armistice, they steadfastly refused to give in.
For the 11th Battalion, the "Cambs Suffolks" had fought their final major battle at Vendegies and had in the days afterwards, advanced beyond the river Escallion. On 1st November, they Stood-To to support an attack across the high ground beyond the village of Sepamaries and onwards towards the village of Villers-Pol, but the attack by their colleagues in the 9th Northumberland Hussars, was successful and in the afternoon, the Battalion, less 'C' Company who had remained, were withdrawn into billets in Somaing.
Then came a day of rest and bathing. "A draft of 167 OR's received" wrote the War Diary and training and games were continuing and that afternoon, the Divisional Concert Party arrived. On the 5th November "SBR inspection by Bde Gas officer" was held and small box respirators were checked and rechecked. Gas was still a threat and was used, though briefly, for the last time against the Battalion at Vendegies.
For the 2nd Battalion, that which had fought the longest, the first days of November were also ones of rest. They spent the first day of the month in rest billets at Carnieres. They had after their final great attack at Escarmain, received two drafts of men, and with a depleted number of officers, the primary concern of the the Battalion Commander, Captain Lummis, was to integrate these men as soon as possible, should the Battalion be called to attack once more.
Though the sound of gunfire could still be heard, the movement of men back and forth from village to village every closer to the Germans, convinced many that the end was very close. For Captain Lummis, he ensured the Drums of the Battalion were played as much as possible and that the appearance of the Battalion was kept high. 'Refitting' was the name of day.
Far to the north, the 4th Battalion were also in limbo around the border village of Howardries. Their serious fighting had ceased in late September when they had attacked to take the railway line south of the village of Epehy. Their colleagues in the Cambridgeshires, took the village itself on the 18th but there was a heavy force of the enemy along the railways to the east of the village.
For the 12th (Bantam) Battalion, they were further north still in Flanders along the river Scheldt. They had been reformed in England earlier in the year and had returned to the fight fresh in the summer. As the British attacked over the river Lys in late October, the Battalion occupies the line on the Scheldt between Warcoing and Espierres. As the advance moved on, they too experienced a period of 'inactivity'.
The final fighting Battalion on the Western Front was the 15th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Battalion. It had since its battles towards Templeux-le-Gerrard in September, been withdrawn to the border region in Flanders where they had been in the line at Neuve Chapelle. From here they were taken south to lille where the Germans were withdrawing beyond the City. From there, a swift advance took them to the west of Tournai, where they were set to take the town in early November, but as Germans resistance slackened, a large scale attack upon the town now seemed not necessary.
The fighting days of the Great War now seemed to gently fade away for the men of the Suffolk Regiment.
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.