"Considerable Bomb Fighting Ensued But The Enemy Obtained A Footing In The Front And Support Line Where Continued Bomb Fighting Was In Progress"
In hope that a few stragglers may have remained, the C.O. asked Sergeant Smith to round-up anyone who may have remained.
“Crawling from shell hole to shell hole under heavy fire and though wounded through the leg by a rifle shot at 30 yards returned with a report that there was no one in either original line, except Germans”.
Holding their positions until about 2.00pm, the K.O.R.L.s were reporting by runner, that the enemy were behind their positions and the C.O. therefore decided to retire. Back in ‘Z’ Company’s area, Captain Russell and Captain Baker received news of the retirement. Owing to the terrain, they started the men off in groups of six men at a time to reach the Neuville Vitasse Switch Trench, and over the next few minutes, the remains of the Company got away to safety. The last two teams to go, one of which included Baker, suffered many casualties, and a team of Lewis gunners valiantly remained and fought off the advance, until they were themselves overrun.
In the switch trench, the C.O. of the Gordon Highlanders, reported that his battalion has suffered heavy casualties and that it was in danger of being overrun. In assistance, the C.O., sent Lieutenant’s Gardner and Emeney with 40 men to reinforce them. By 5.00pm, the K.O.R.L has been overrun and along 2nd Suffolk were now falling back past the switch trench.Though touch was maintained with the Gordon Highlanders, the Battalion were fighting in the centre on virtually every flank. “The Batt’n was holding the green line north of the railway and in touch with the G.H. on the right and the 15th Div. on the left. Considerable bomb fighting ensued but the enemy obtained a footing in the front and support line where continued bomb fighting was in progress and a heavy barrage of 5.9 on the whole line”.
The situation remained as such until nightfall when a conference of officers from all three units decided to re-organise a line in front of Neuville Vitasse village with 2nd Suffolk on the left, Gordon Highlanders in the centre and the K.O.R.L.s on the right. The Gordon’s were asked to relieve the Suffolks early the following morning, but owing to a possible counter attack, the Gordon’s C.O. wished to remain and consolidate in the village. Rations were brought up, but owing to the enemy being close by, they were dumped. Searches during the night failed to locate them and at 3.40 am, the 21st Battalion of Canadians, relieved the Battalion and they were moved into billets at Riviere.
After the action, the Battalion’s strength stood at just under half of what it was the day before. Total losses were 14 officers and 414 other ranks willed or wounded. A large majority of men were also missing including Captains Baker and Simpson.
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.