Early on the morning of the 12 April, the 1st Battalion were leaving their billets in Dranoutre, and were heading for the town of Poperinge some 4 miles away. The march would take them through the small village of Westoutre, where at that time, the 2nd Battalion were billeted.
Knowing of their imminent arrival, the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Clifford, rode out with his Adjutant, Captain Williams to meet the 1st Battalion’s Commander; Lieutenant-Colonel Wallace. As the 1st Battalion entered the village, a halt was made, when after men from the both Battalions mingled and chatted. Old chums who had enlisted and trained together, met up and relieved old times. Men who had served in Egypt, Malta, South Africa and Ireland, shared a smoke and exchanged banter.
The officers from both Battalions got together. Lunch was held in a small makeshift mess in an estaminet overlooking the church. After lunch was over, Captain W.B. Higgins produced his pocket camera and it was decided that a picture should be taken to record this momentous event.
Crossing out from their mess, the officers stood in front of the village church and had their photograph taken. Present from the 1st Battalion were; Lieut.-Col. W.B. Wallace, Captain D.V.M. Balders (Adjutant) Captain Arnold, Lieutenants Wood and Bradley and 2/Lieut’s Harrison, Lloyd and Chandler. From the 2nd Battalion were Lieut.-Col. H.F.H. Clifford, Captain Williams (Adjutant), Lieutenants Oakes (survivor of Le Cateau) and Sparkes, 2/Lieut’s Trollope, Bunbury, Lowther, Vesey and Pickard-Cambridge. Also present were a number of recently drafted officers in both Battalions from the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion in England.
After the photograph, as time was pressing, the 1st Battalion formed up and moved off north to Poperinge. Higgins used his precious stock of film to take two more photographs; one of a fellow officer in the 1st Battalion looking back over his shoulder and another of a 2nd Battalion man chatting to an old chum in the 1st Battalion as he marched away.
Despite an official Army Council Instruction banning the use of private cameras, Higgins left us these three photographs as the only legacy of that momentous event. It was momentous for the Home Service and Foreign Service Battalions of The Suffolk Regiment met together only three times during the entire 274 years the Regiment was in existence.
Within six weeks, one C.O. would be captured and within 18 months, the other would be killed. It would be another 12 years before the two Battalions would meet again. Luckily it would be in the sunnier peaceful air of Gibraltar.
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.