At dusk on 1st November 1917, 1/5th Suffolk moved with the rest of their Brigade into their jumping off positions for the forthcoming attack in Gaza.
All day the Turks had fired shrapnel high up above the Suffolk positions without inflicting any great harm on the men below. Though there was a fear of such fire, cork sun helmets were still worn in the front line for they offered better protection form the piecing sun, than from shrapnel.
Quietly in the darkness, they reached 'Fusilier Ridge' about 7.15pm and started to dig-in. The march forward had been one of much tension. The men, expectant that the Turks had been watching the line and the pegged wire roads, felt sure that suddenly the cat would be let out of the bag and deadly fire brought down upon them, but amazingly, nothing happened.
"We moved up into our jumping off points" wrote Captain Wolton "reaching the allotted positions without incident about 7.15pm. Everyone then had a short sleep". At around 11.00pm, the Turks brought down a heavy barrage along the line in retaliation for an successful attack on nearby 'Umbrella Hill'. The bombardment continued until around 1.00am in the morning, after which the Suffolks were stood to to await a counter-attack, but again it did not materialise.
"At 1.ooam" continues Wolton "after a mug of tea from a thermos dixie, we went over the top, across the bridges, through eight gaps in the wore, and followed the line of pegs previously set out. We then deployed in eight lines, the front one 300 yards from our own wire, and about 700 yards from the Turkish front line"
'D' Company under the command of Captain Hubert Wolton and 'B' Company under Captain Joshua Rowley went first as the two attacking Company's. Following behind was 'C' Company under Captain Kilner and 'A' Company under Captain Catchpole. For the advance, steel helmets had been issued to replace the sun helmets.
Thus, in deathly silence, the Battalion arrived in their new positions at 'Halfway House' where at 2.00am, the CO, Lieutenant-Colonel Wollaston, went along the line to check that everybody was where they should be and whether there had been and casualties during the advance. Everyone wa sin position and all was well. The rum was distributed at 2.15am to section leaders and the men stood by to move again.
Zero hour was fixed for 3.00am.
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.