At 4.15pm on the afternoon of the 29th September 1915, the world came to an abrupt end for 2nd Suffolk in the front line at Hooge.
To the immediate right of the Suffolk positions, the Germans detonated a gigantic mine under the British front line, causing many casualties and much confusion. As the dirt settled they came on. 4th Middlesex took most of the attack and the Germans successful gained the British front line in their sector. In an attempt to gain it back, a party of bombers from A Company bombed their way forward but superior German forces pushed them back. A counter attack was planned by the surviving elements of 4th Middlesex and 2nd Royal Scots but with insufficient supplies of bombs and night was fast approaching, the attack was called off. The gates were pulled down and the trench was sealed off by deliberately collapsing the sandbags at the junction between the front line and the communication trench. They waited expectedly for the German counter attack, and all ears craned for the sounds of pick and shovel during the night but the Germans were ominously quiet.
The following morning; the 30th, was spent in the line with support troops bringing up the much needed supply's of bombs for the counter attack which was planned for 3.15pm. The artillery bombardment which was the precursor to the infantry going in would commence at 3.00pm, and right on que they began, however after its conclusion, it appeared to have been largely unsuccessful in destroying the enemy positions.
A Company went over first commanded by Captain E.C. Smith. A within hail of machine gun fire brought down Smith and many others, but undeterred, Captain J.V.R. de Castro, who was just behind, pressed on and successfully reached the western edge of the crater. Halted by barbed wire, he lay flat in the open to cut at it. Major C.H. Turner, who was in command of the attack, was killed along with Lieutenant Thill. The bombers were desperately needed, but their officer, captain Dealtry was badly wounded and no senior NCO survived in their party to assume command. Enfilading machine gun fire from the flanks, saw a calculated withdrawal. The survivors fell back, consolidating the positions the Germans had taken the previous evening. They cut a new trench across their own linking it with the edge of the crater. men of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) worked tirelessly to build up the defence as the exhausted survivors crawled back in.
De Castro, last seen at the German wire was later confirmed as being killed by machine gun fire as he continued to cut the wire. He'd pushed the men on and showed great personal courage in going out alone to cut the wire.
By the end of the day, the Battalion had not much to show for their efforts. They held the same ground again, give or take a few feet, yet again the enemy denied them the battlefield. They had shown great courage and lost many men. The reborn phoenix now needed a desperate transfusion of men.
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.