On the 6th March, the 4th Battalion were in the front line trenches between Richebourg and Neuve Chapelle.
The trenches were in a sorry condition. The inclement weather in the New Year had not given the men a chance to improve their positions. These simple fortifications in the ground were now falling-in and were almost continually filled with cold, icy water.
One Suffolk officer, Lieutenant Francis John Childs Ganzoni, who was at that time, the Conservative member of Parliament for Ipswich (having won the Ipswich by-election in May 1914), took with him to France, a pocket camera, with which he recorded the day-to-day life of the Battalion in early 1915.
In the photograph above, he captured a soldier of 4th Suffolk armed with an entrenching tool, trying desperately to make his scrape in the side of the trench a little more comfortable. Almost knee-high in mud, he wears no cap. He has a scarf wrapped around his head as protection against the cold and the butt of his rifle can be seen resting on the parapet above his head.
In these conditions when feet, equipment and clothing soon became caked in mud, any form of movement to keep warm, was impossible.
On the 4th March 1915, The Cambridgeshire Regiment lost it's first soldier to enemy action.
In the trenches around Dickebusch, south-west of the town of Ypres, the 1st Cambridgeshire's were being sent up to the front line in a gradual programme of acclimatisation to get them ready to take over a section of the front line.
As they entered the front line trenches, a German sniper shot Corporal Noble Dewey through the back. Gravely wounded, he was conveyed back to the village church; which had been converted into an impromptu hospital where he received medical aid.
His wound however was serious, as the bullet had penetrated both lungs. Although still just able to talk with Major Saint who had accompanied him to the hospital, his condition deteriorated and he died a few hours later. The Great War had claimed its first Cambridgeshire soldier.
Dewey was a Cambridge man, a keen athlete and well respected member of the Regiment. In his last letter home to his mother, written on the 1st March, he wrote; "We are getting plenty of food of a sort, but when you are hungry anything will do. Hope you are all well. About the only thing I want is some soap, as they charge too much out here."
Noble was the first to fall, but he would not be the last. By the end of the conflict, the Great War would claim another 875 men of The Cambridgeshire Regiment.
With thanks to the excellent Cambridgeshire Regiment 1914-18 website:
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.