"The early hours of 5th November 1916 were hell for the 2nd Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment. A small German force was pounding their trenches with artillery fire in a determined effort to over-run them by dawn. The ground shook with explosions.
Then Captain W.E. Newcombe saw an extraordinary white light that appeared to rise from the mud in no man’s land, forming itself into the figure of a British officer in a slightly dated uniform. The face looked exactly like the face from the Recruitment posters, the face of the former leader of the Suffolk Regiment who had died five months before: Lord Kitchener.
British flares lit the ground between the opposing forces and all could see the figure of Lord Kitchener walking along, parallel to the trenches, like a bizarre inspection. The spectral figure turned to face the enemy and for a moment the stunned Germans ceased their attack.
But the flares had signalled assistance from the British artillery and suddenly British shells were pounding no man’s land. The Germans fought back and in the ensuing chaos everyone lost sight of the ghost. By the time the smoke cleared, Lord Kitchener was gone. Captain Newcombe's formal report would become the stuff of legend."
Such was the above report published just a few years ago. It is for want of a better expression, complete nonsense. Upon the day in question, 2nd Suffolk were, contrary to the above, not in the front line trenches, but were engaged as "working parties on roads." They had been in the front line trenches the week before, at Courcelles, but by the 31st October, they were removed from the line to train and prepare for a forthcoming attack in the north of the Some sector.
Field Marshal, Earl Horatio Herbert Kitchener, had no formal link with the Suffolk Regiment, though his mother, Frances Ann Chevalier, was from a family whose members owned apple orchards in Suffolk and who were faimed for their cider. He was never the "former leader" of the Regiment. There is also no trace of Newcombe's "formal report."
Whilst there were numerous reporting's of ghostly apparitions, angels even medieval bowman, along the Western Front of which the press made much in the news of the day, there is absolutely no evidence that anything was encountered by the men of the Suffolk Regiment.
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.