100 years ago today, the first of the Service Battalions of The Suffolk Regiment was born.
On 20th August 1914, Major C.D. Parry Crooke left the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion; then at their war station at Felixstowe, and proceeded to the Depot to raise the 7th (Service) Battalion.
After the great call to the nations men to come and fight was made by Lord Kitchener in the early days of war, thousands of men started appearing at the Depot in Bury St. Edmunds volunteering for service. By the 20th August there was enough to form a Battalion and Major Parry Crooke took his new recruits by train to Shornecliffe in Kent, where they were to form part of new a Brigade being formed which was ironically, commanded by Brigadier-General C.H. Van Straubenzee, who had seven months previously, relinquished his command of 2nd Suffolk in Ireland.
The first few weeks, were as to be expected occupied by “drill, drill, drill and drill again” before the rudiments of basic musketry and field craft were taught and learnt. Such was the call to arms that uniforms and equipment could not be found in any great numbers. With the Reservists being called back to the Colours, the Depots around the country had exhausted their stocks and what additional spare suits of service dress and equipment were to be found, had disappeared rapidly. Territorial stores were raided for anything that could be issued to these keen enthusiastic young citizen soldiers and many old and obsolete sets of 1878 and 1888 pattern white buff leather equipment was pressed into service along with an assortment of out of date and antique calibre weapons such as the .577/450 Martin-Henry rifle – last used in action in limited quantities in Natal in the 1880s. The first uniforms to arrive were manufactured in blue serge, made from the vast stocks of cloth readily available for postmen and bus drivers uniforms. in It would to be several months before khaki serge was available in large enough quantities to be issued universally to the entire Battalion.
A notable young officer who joined the Battalion in Kent, was a young Lieutenant Charles Sorley, later to become a famous war poet. His service with the Battalion was regretfully not to be a long one.
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.