On the 26th September; the day that the first Victoria Cross was won by a soldier of The Suffolk Regiment, the 7th Battalion were hastily leaving their front line trenches around Plugstreet in Belgium and were marching southwards to join the major British offensive taking place around the coal mining town of Loos.
Over the next five days, they marched complete with all they possessed, southwards. At times the going was heavy and at night it rained making the men damp in the morning as they marched on. The waterproof sheet they were issued was not big enough to lay on and cover oneself as well. They had to choose between a wet back or a wet stomach. Working on the old adage of the Sergeant Major "one layer below was worth two on top" many slept on them in the damp grass.
At Gonnehem, north west of Bethune, they arrived to find no billets waiting for them. In the failing light, the Billeting Officer went round knocking on doors asking in schoolboy French whether the homeowner had a barn or a shed, or a greenhouse that they could use. With no approved list to consult it was a thankless task.
On the last day of the month, they arrived at Loos. Late in the afternoon, they were pushed straight into the front line trenches. The going was hard for there were no proper roads to take them up to the front. The troops with their hobnailed boots had churned up the paths and underneath, the chalky ground made sure that within minutes, everybody's boots weighed a ton with caked-on white glutenous mud. Many a man slipped and cursed on this new battlefield - it was flanders but with white as opposed to brown mud.
For the next week, it was front line service interspersed with days of fatigues and wiring parties. The men spent time behind the lines on bombing courses. The bomb was to be the weapon of the forthcoming battle and all men had to know how to use them. The continued shelling always appeared close, even though it was sometimes a mile or so away. The flat terrain of this new battlefield, carried noise much further than in flanders. The men were beginning to have foreboding - even the name of the place seemed to be a portent of failure. Was it "Loos" or "loose."
Within days, the Battalion would be called to play its part in the battle, making it the third Suffolk Battalion to be engaged in the offensive. Would they suffer failure like their comrades in the 1st Battalion at the Hohnezollern? or have success like their chums in the 9th Battalion did at Hulluch?
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.