For the men of 1st Suffolk, the middle months of 1918 in the mosquito-ridden swampland of the Struma valley in Macedonia.
For Victor Farmer, a young subaltern who had been commissioned into 1st Suffolk from the Artist's Rifles, he was soon to join his Platoon in the first of a series of raids into the enemy territory. Farmer was in a curious twist of coincidence, to command 12 Platoon, D Company, the same platoon that 35 years later, his son Robin would command in Malaya.
For endless weeks, he was involved in raid after raid, across the swampland seldom coming into contact with the enemy, though encounters with the wild feral dogs living on the plains were commonplace. He recalled one of his early forays into the valley: "We had gone about two miles I saw my right hand man suddenly run in towards his next man; I ran across to him with the Corporal of the section and asked him what he had seen. He was too dumbfounded to say anything so the Corporal and I circled about in the long grass, but we saw nothing. There were numerous escaped dogs in the plain and I thought he had seen or heard one or more of these. I was afraid of being left behind in my post so that, after pausing for a few seconds, I gave the order to go on forward."
He continued: "Barry Higgins (the Company Commander) had a trench coat, a kind of belted raincoat, which was part of an officers kit in those days. His trench coat was barely khaki in colour, it was almost white and seemed to have a translucence all of its own. When the battalion assembled on the bank of the river for a raid, Barry Higgins, as we all did, wore his trench coat. It seemed to glow like a beacon in the bright starlight, and it seemed to us, would be seen for miles like a kind of beacon light."
When they returned to the Suffolk lines, it became known that two Bulgarian soldiers had surrendered to the Cheshires. "I heard, months later" wrote Farmer, "that the man who ran in from the extreme right had actually seen these men but had been too frightened to report them. He was very new and raw recruit to the Battalion and perhaps I, or my Sergeant, were at fault for placing him in this position. I did in fact, change him over immediately after the incident, putting a more seasoned man in his place. So, inspite of Barry Higgins bright and shining trench coat, we all arrived back safe and sound."
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.