Early in the New Year, news came to Mr. Zachariah Tordoff Senior, at his home in Hanley, Stoke on Trent, that his son Zachariah Junior, had died on active service in Salonika whilst serving with the 1st Battalion. He had fallen however not in battle against the enemy, but of disease in a Field Hospital from the dreaded disease that was Malaria.
Born in Wood Street, Dudley in 1896 to immigrant parents of northern European origin, he was like many of his generation, dissatisfied with his job at the outbreak of war. Leaving the Shelton Iron Works where he was then employed, he first enlisted into the local yeomanry regiment, before finding himself in June 1915, joining 7th Suffolk, before they were drafted overseas to service on the Western Front.
By the end of the Loos campaign, Zachariah was part of a draft of men joining the 1st Battalion, who after their less than satisfactory performance at the Hohenzollern Redoubt, were being posted to Egypt, and then to Salonika.
Zachariah died of malignant malaria in No. 144 Field Hospital. Though he seemed in the best of health just a few days before - when he had boxed on behalf of his Section, the malaria that killed him, was most probably caused by a mosquito bite inflicted some months before whilst campaigning in the Struma Valley, the disease had lay dormant until it flared up to quickly end his life on 22nd December 1916.
Tordoff was one of hundreds who were being lost on a monthly basis to the diseases of a dreaded Grecian climate. Though the Army in Macedonia had been quick to implement strict measures to try to combat the spread of malaria; measures that included dedicated clothing and protection for the skin during both the day and night, not even the twice daily issue of quinine, could halt the spread of the accursed disease. Many more would suffer as the 1st Battalion soldiered on for a second year of battle under the Mediterranean sun.
On 13th January 1917, Lieutenant H.B. Monier-Williams was sitting in the door of a newly captured German dug-out. Using his Army Book No. 3; which was designed for field sketching, he recorded the scene that lay before him.
The Adjutant "Pop" was at work at a makeshift desk, catching up on the business of the Battalion. Behind him was two bunks; simple wooden frames over which chicken wire was stretched. In the top bunk, hung an officers greatcoat, the Lieutenant's pips visible on the epaulettes. On the side of the bunk was a waterbottle in its webbing cradle with the cork stopper in place. On the opposite wall, an officers service dress cap was hung on a old nail alongside a gas hood in it's satchel, distinctive by its two buttons.
The Adjuatant worked by candlelight; the stub of a guttering candle stuffed in an old condensed milk tin; it's sides performated with holes which threw weird shapes upon the dug-out walls.
He sat on an upturned wooden ammunition box, seen in the foreground with its distinctive dovetailed corners and sliding lid. It bore the label ".303 INCH IN BANDOLIERS." It was a record of a unique moment in time.
Hugh Benyon Monier-Williams was commissioned into the Suffolk Regiment in May 1915. He joined the 3rd Battalion at Felixstowe a week or so later, he found himself on the Western Front with a new draft of men bolstering the ranks of the 2nd Battalion. He became their Machine Gun Officer and later that year with the formation of the Machine Gun Corps in October, he transferred to 50th Company, M.G.C., rejoining 2nd Suffolk in 1917.
He won the Military Cross in January 1918, and added a Bar to it later that year. He stayed with 2nd Suffolk until 1921, when he transferred to the 1st Battalion, serving with them in Malabar in 1921-22.
A prolific artist and Regimental Historian, he was Adjutant to the 4th Battalion in 1927, and later Commanding Officer at the Depot. It was during his tenure here in the mid 1930s, that he was responsible for the creation of the now legendary, Regimental Museum. It was originally housed in a small room in the eves of the Officers Mess.
During the Second World War, he commanded 2nd Suffolk in India, where he was affectionately known as "Moanie-Bill." He later served in Europe on the staff of 21st Army Group and then as part of the Allied Control Council, earning an OBE in 1946.
In 1955, as a retired officer, he wrote and profusely illustrated "The Story of The Colours" it is still the seminal work on the subject. Monier-William's was Suffolk to the core. He cared passionately in the Regiment's past and did much to record its history. Were it not for him, we would not have such a fine Regimental Museum; a museum that is still unrivalled anywhere else in Britain.
The New Year brought no startlingly new changes for the men of 2nd Suffolk.
The Battalion having had a quiet Christmas, were back in the front line in the Serre Sector in the New Year and the business of fighting continued as before.
The business of administration also had to continue. Every Battalion required an Adjutant, some were good, some were not. For 2nd Suffolk their Adjutant was the redoubtable Captain H.C.N. Trollope; a copious chronicler and adept book-keeper, but for wounds he received at Longueval on 20th July 1916, he was invaided home to recouperate. It was his second wound.
In the loss of Trollope, Captain V.C. Russell 'assumed' the position of Adjutant. Russell had joined the Battalion in 1915 and had until the 20th July, been a Platoon Commander in 'X' Company. Of no great administrative or military training, he suddenly found himself ordered by the CO; Lieutenant-Colonel G.C. Stubbs, to assume the role of Adjutant to the Battalion. Bemused, but nervous about his promotion, he later recalled; "When Anthony Trollope was wounded on the Somme in July 1916, I was pushed into the Adjutants job with very little military training. Jotham (the Orderly Sergeant) was running the Orderly Room and he took complete charge. He was really first class and taught me all I knew at the time about admin. matters. Though I say it myself, I became quite a good Adjutant and it was entirely due to Jotham"
For Captain Russell, his tenure as Adjutant was in the New Year, drawing to a close. News was received that Captain Trollope was returning to the Battalion in the next few days and would once more assume the position of Adjutant. For Russell, he was to revert once more to a Platoon Commander, but he was ever thankful of the "redoubtable Jotham" who had assisted him in Trollope's absence.
Ex-O.R.Q.M.S. (Orderly Room Quarter Master Sergeant) George Jotham enlisted in the Suffok Regiment in 1898 (No. 4926) and served with 1st Suffolk in the Boer War. He survived the Great War to retire in 1922. In 1971, Jotham became an in-pensioner at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. He died in October 1973 having kept in contact with Captain, Later Brigadier V.C. Russell all of his life. Following his death, Russell, himself over 80 years old, wrote of him; "I was very sorry to hear of the death of Jotham. We were always great friends and enjoyed a good talk when we met. His death was a sad one for me."
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.