On the evening of Tuesday 10th August 1915 in the darkness of a warm Mediterranean evening, the men of 5th Suffolk watched the dark cliffs of the Gallipoli peninsular loom out from the darkness.
Huddled on the flat deck of a 'lighter' barge, the pinpricks of light came into view. Shortly afterwards a massive naval bombardment was made of the Turkish positions inland. As the bombardment continued, the men were transferred from the lighter to numerous steam launches waiting alongside to take them into shore. It was around 2.00am and under the cover of the bombardment, the men edged closer to the beach. A gentle crunch was felt as the launches breached and small ramps were dropped allowing the men to file ashore as fast as possible. Some too eager, jumped over the side. The lucky ones landing on the sand, the unlucky ones landing in the sea. This was 'A' beach and the Battalion had just gained another battle honour for their parent regiment; 'Landing at Suvla' adding to 'Le Cateau,' 'Neuve Chapelle' and 'Ypres 1915.'
In the darkness, the Battalion consolidated and started to move inland. As the men moved off up steep slopes, down deep gullies and gorse filled ravines, the words went back; "no smoking, no talking, Johny's just over there"
As they reached a small plateau, they fanned out and knelt in the long grass and scrub. The bracken, akin to holly which was lovely to eye, yet painful to touch. It was christened 'Turkish Oak' and its jagged thorns ripped the khaki drill uniforms causing numerous painful stratches. These were however nothing compared to the unseen enemy that lay low in the shadows. Turkish snipers, of which it was later estimated there to be around 30 in the vicinity, worked their deadly fire in these first early hours, yet miraculously no one was killed. The crack of a rifle, followed by the fizz of a bullet spiralling into the scrub, sought to remind these newly arrived crusaders that they were now on the saracens soil.
Despite the offensive in the Dardanelles being almost three months old, there was not much to show in terms of ground gained or victories won. The advance had been all but a few miles and still close to the beach, pockets of Turkish resistance and defensive outposts remained. Like the Western Front, the two sides were just yards apart.
Up on the plateau, work began in to build a line of trenches. With their counterparts of the Lancashire Fusiliers, they set to work linking up a line of sangers with trenches. The soft sandy soil was great for digging deep into, not like the hard soil of Thetford where they been on exercise just a few months before. The gorse was hacked out and piled high, so men could get deeper and as daylight arrived once more, the men felt a little safer a few feet underground.
It was a far cry from a fortnight before when Lieutenant H.C. Wolton recalled in his diary of their leaving Watford station, how "the girls insisted on carrying the heavy kitbags of the men." There was no such patriotic feeling now. War had come quickly to 5th Suffolk.
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.