The 1st Battalion upon their return from Egypt had been billeted first at Lichfield, then Felixstowe, before finally in December, being sent to Hursley Park near Winchester.
Whilst here, the final stages of the Battalion's mobilisation was completed. The men's surplus uniforms and equipment were packed into their kitbags and placed in store. The oil bottles in the butts of their rifles were filled with oil and their field dressings were sewn into their pockets in the service dress jackets. The Quartermaster stood by to get the men to their embarkation port, and for this undertaking he drew four bicycles and eight pocket watches from the Army Ordnance Department to ensure that all would run smoothly.
Unlike the 2nd Battalion on Home Service, whose War Establishment of 1000 men was completed in less than 72 hours, the 1st Battalion’s mobilization took a little longer. Depleted of officers, senior NCOs and men who had been syphoned off to other units. Their mobilization took weeks rather than days.
On December 7th two drafts arrived from the 3rd Battalion; 225 in one draft, 40 in the other. On January 4th another 30 men arrived from the 3rd Battalion, but the weather was still awful and their camp was nothing but a “sea of mud.”
The decision was made, just as with the 9th Battalion at Brighton, to put the men into billets in nearby Winchester. From here, they could march the 13 miles to Southampton and onto transport to France. By the 13th January rumours abounded that they would soon be off. Captain Jack Alexander Campbell, who joined the 1st Battalion in Malta in 1906, instructed his groom to put his beloved charger on the train home to Suffolk and ordered his servant pack his kit and label it 'Havre' - there was no doubting their final destination.
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.