January 15th 1915, the War Diary for the 1st Battalion, The Suffolk Regiment noted that at last mobilisation was complete. 25 officers and 996 other ranks were ready to go to war.
At Battalion Headquarters, Movement Orders were received from Brigade HQ instructing the Battalion Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel W.B. Wallace to gather the men from their billets in Winchester to proceed via a directed route, to their embarkation port of Southampton.
The Battalion would assemble in Jewry Street and proceed via the High Street out of the town southwards. Their route was planned to the minute with scheduled stops for ten minutes every hour. From Winchester, to Otterbourne, through Chandler’s Ford and onto Southampton Common. Here a scheduled halt would be made and any deficient horses would be replaced with those from the Remount Department which would have a temporary stable in the north-east corner of the common.
From here via St. Mary's Road, St. Mary's Street, Freefield Lane and Lattimer Street, they would arrive at No. 2 Dock gate, where they would embark on transport for Le Havre. The orders were strict; “The times given in the March Table must be strictly adhered to, and units must preserve strict march discipline” If need be, there would be no stops if the Battalion was behind time. Any man falling out from the column was to be left with instructions to proceed to No. 2 Dock gate where he would be directed to his Battalion’s berth. The column would
Originally the Battalion was to bring up the rear of the column with 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers and 2nd Cheshires in front of them, but at 8.15pm; just as the final loading of stores and equipment was being completed, the Battalion received an amendment to the Movement Order stating that the start time was to be advanced by five minutes and the order of column changed. Instead of being last, they would now be second behind the Northumberland Fusiliers. With this amendment came the Embarkabion table. For the first time, the C.O. knew which ship they were to sail to France upon; the S.S. Mount Temple.
The Mount Temple was one of the ships that came to the assistance of the sinking R.M.S. Titanic three years before. It was rumoured that she ignored the Titanic's distress rockets and that she could have arrived sooner to assist the sinking ship. Irrespective of this, the most important thing at present was to get a good night's sleep and be ready early in the morning for the final march to war.
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.