For an entire week in early September 1916, the war diary for 7th Suffolk used the phrase "All Quiet" to indicate that in their sector of the front line near Arras nothing much was happening.
Compared to weeks of relentless attacks and offensives on the Somme, this backwater was a less hotter spot than Ovilliers.
The Battalion spent the week in the trenches around a junction known as the "Haymarket." There were in fact no fewer than three known "Haymarkets" on the Western Front. One in the Salient, one on the Somme and another at Arras. All were junctions of intersecting trenches and lived up to their name.
On the 10th September, a trench raid was conducted against the Germans in front of them. A small selected party of men wearing minimal equipment, with blackened faces and balaclavas, set out in search of intelligence on the enemy that faced them. Armed with nothing more than a club or pistol, it could take over two hours to crawl silently through no-man's-land to reach the enemy line just a few yards away. A pause could be made in a shell hole, but moving inches at a time, careful not to kick an old bully beef tin or snag a woollen puttee on a section of wire was slow going. Patience was the name of the game.
Arriving at the German wire was the most difficult part. There was the choice of whacking an unfortunate sentry on the head, grabbing him and darting back, or entering the trench and gathering what they could in the form of intelligence. Either way, it was a risky business. The value of intelligence in wartime could not be underestimated. Everything was of value. An epaulette on a hanging greatcoat may give a numeral of the Regiment. A tunic button bearing a crest, could tell which state the Regiment belonged to. Stamping on the butt of a rifle, or the wrappers of a parcel from home, carelessly tossed aside, were all of importance to those on the other side.
The aim of this particular raid was to bring back a prisoner, but they were on this occasion unsuccessful. They would try again if it was possible, but alerted to their nocturnal activities, the Germans now kept an eye out for them, so the cat was well and truly out of the bag. It would be best to wait and try again in a week or so.
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.