The months of June, July and August were the time of the annual camps for the Territorial Battalions of The Suffolk Regiment.
The 4th and 5th T.F. (Territorial Force) Battalions, were formed in 1908 as a result of the Haldane reforms of the British Army.
These reforms abolished the various volunteer and militia units which were not connected in any way, and brought them together under a system of organisation and administration, at a local regimental level. Thus, the 1st (Volunteer) Battalion became 4th Suffolk, whilst the 2nd (Volunteer) Battalion became 5th Suffolk. The 6th (Cyclists) Battalion, had it roots in the Essex and Suffolk Cyclists who having split in 1909 to go their separate ways.
Annual camp was the one chance in the year that the various detachments that formed the different Company's around the county, were able to get together and exercise as one complete unit of infantry.
The primary role of the Territorial Force was however, if war ever erupted on the continent, to act as home defence, leaving the regular forces to take on the enemy overseas as part of an Expeditionary Force.
Fitness was therefore all important, but the Territorials also took great pride in their previous reputation; as volunteers, as being crack shots with a rifle; a skill they proved in South Africa during the Boer War, earning the new Battalions their first Battle Honour "South Africa 1900-02" in recognition of their services.
Across the county, men received their notifications and got ready for 2 weeks annual camp. Employers were duty bound to grant members of the Territorial Force leave to attend, and some employers even attended themselves - such as prominent county industrialist Frank Garrett; owner of the world-famous Richard Garrett Engineering Works at Leiston.
With the assistance of his managers, Colonel Garrett mustered some 80 men from the works (the unit known officially as 'H' Company, 4th Suffolk) and prepared them for annual camp. It was to be their last peacetime camp in the calm before the storm that was to come.
The events that surrounded the 2nd Battalion's actions at the Curragh in March 1914, were to a great extent, unknown to the 1st Battalion; then stationed in Egypt.
Rumours in the international press had hinted of a 'Mutiny in Ireland' yet precise details were not offered.
When the May 1914 edition of the Suffolk Regimental Gazette found its way to Khartoum, they were still none the wiser, but the Gazette's Editor sought to assure all of it's readers that despite the fact that the Battalion were still passing through a difficult time, that their one priority above all else, was to uphold the very highest traditions of the Suffolk Regiment, above all personal considerations and sentiments.
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.