In the latter days of November in the Gallipoli peninsular, large flocks of migrating geese passed overhead on their way to a warmer winter home.
In an effort to relive the boredom, any weapon that could be obtained was pressed into service to send up an impenetrable wall of lead to bring down these birds. Rifles and machine-guns; both Turkish and Allied engaged in the curious sport. One known goose was brought down but as it landed in no-mans-land, neither side benefited from its demise.
The acute boredom of trench life in the Gallipoli peninsular was all apparent to the men of the 5th Battalion and with the onslaught of the heavy winter weather, the men who had just become accustomed to the heat, now found themselves in sub-zero temperatures suffering from flooded trenches and frostbite. It was a curious battlefront.
Unbeknown to them however, the powers that be, had already consoled themselves to an evacuation of the peninsular as soon as possible. Though much had been done to purport the image that the Allies were still in offensive spirit, not much was done to further the front line.
A large mine was blown under Hill 60 in front of the Battalion on 5th November (in honour of it being Guy Faukes night) but under the express orders of the CO, the men were not to leave their trenches to consolidate the crater, but were instead to remain in their positions. No unnecessary loss of life was to be risked.
News spread far and wide of 1st Suffolks capture of two German flags from no-mans-land opposite Kemmel in early September.
Following their capture, news of these treasured souvenirs spread far and wide.
A few days later, reporter arrived to get the story from those who were there and take a photograph of these most coveted of spoils.
Was the photograph ever published? we shall probably never know. After years of searching it has never come to light. However this photograph which has recently been sent to us, may be the one.
Originally published in the Illustrated London News in November 1915, its shows two cheery sergeants, both caked in mud, fresh from the trenches with one sporting trench waders. Could it be one of 'the' Suffolk flags?
In early November, a postcard was received by No. 8699, Private Basil Dawes of B Company, 2nd Suffolk, who was a prisoner of war in Germany at Doeberitz Camp. It Ran;
"My Dear Boy, We thought of you on the 1st. Have you got your parcel? Have you heard from D yet? You did not say how you were. we are looking forward to a letter. Do you want any clothes? say when you write. With love from Dad."
"D" was Basil's brother Donald, also a prisoner of war in Germany, but in a camp at Dyrotz. Like Basil, Donald had been captured at Le Cateau whilst serving with 2nd Suffolk. He had already spent 14 months in captivity and was already consoling himself that it was turning out to be a long war. Don and Basil's father did his best to cheer them up, sending the boys photographs of their home village of Ufford and photos of themselves in pre-war days - with place names removed by the censor.
The image above was a common one which was reproduced for all of the subjects pictured here. Apart from the Russian soldier in the foreground, all these men were from the Suffolk Regiment and had been in captivity since Le Cateau.
Standing right, is Lance Corporal A. Mallard, a pre-war regular soldier who had served with the 1st Battalion in South Africa. Standing left is 6219, Private John Clarke; a contemporary of Mallard's who left the Suffolk Regiment around 1910. He had gained a successful job with the London and North Eastern Railway Company, but was called back to the Colours when war was declared in August 1914. Amazingly, both men heralded from the small village of Blisworth in Northamptonshire. Basil is standing 2nd left.
It was a tough life as a prisoner of war in the Kaisers Germany. Restricted rations, difficulty in obtaining food and primitive living conditions, are all seen here in the expressions of the men photographed. Some men like Clarke would sadly never survive the ordeal.
Vere Fortrey Currey was born in 1880 and educated at Uppingham. He spoke several European languages being "an unsurpassed linguist" before he entered the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1899 from where he was gazetted into The Suffolk Regiment in 1900.
He had previously served in India, Malta, Aden and at Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight with the 1st Battalion before being transferred to the 7th Battalion in October 1914.
Killed commanding ‘B’ Company in the first attack upon the south side of the “Hair-pin” he left in his will, a considerably legacy to the then embryonic Old Comrades Association which ensured its stability for many years to come. His fondness for military history and its strategy and tactics, was seen in a comprehensive library, which after his death was donated by his parents to the Regiment and formed the basis of the Regimental Library. Today, books in the museum that are still used for reference bear in the frontispiece, the initials "V.F.C."
Such was the loss felt of his passing that the officers of the Battalion after the war, contributed to a large silver cup named in his honour, which was competed for each year and now resides within the Regimental Museum.
In the days following the 7th Battalions actions at Loos, the enormity of the loss of senior officers was being deeply apparent.
Of all those lost, two stood out. Captain Charles Augustus Cobbold, heir to the legendary brewing company, and Major Vere Fortrey Currey.
A native of Saxmundham, Cobbold was educated at Cheltenham College and a pre-war director of the brewing magnates Ind, Coope and Co. He had travelled extensively pre-war and had already had many years service with the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of The Lincolnshire Regiment. A contemporary of Captain Packard of 9th Suffolk, he applied in September 1914 for a commission and was granted it in the 7th (Service) Battalion, being posted to them in their early days at Shorncliffe. When they crossed to France the following year, he was in command of 'A' Company. His widow quickly remarried in 1916 and was subsequently disallowed from taking possession of his medals when they were granted in 1920.
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.