Closer, mile by mile, the 9th Battalion were getting up to the front. Exhausted and carrying full kit, the going was tough for these citizen soldiers.
From Matringhem, via Ham-en-Artois to Le Gornet, then to Bourdois, onward the exhausted men marched. Past Bethune to within earshot of the guns, they knew they were getting close to the front. The major British offensive of 1915, was hours away from starting.
In the deadlock that evolved in late 1915, the British were keen to take the offensive, but many in the General Staff knew that the British would not be in a position to take on the might of the Germany Army until it could equal it in numbers, even though this would mean waiting until the 1917 at least. However being the junior partner in a fighting coalition, the French pushed the British Commander, Field Marshal Sir John French, into taking the offensive late in 1915.
In an area not of his choosing, the coalfields of Artois were to be the place.
The town that 9th Suffolk were marching towards had an ominous and chilling name 'Loos' it seemed that failure hung heavy in the air.
The 9th were by the morning of the 24th completely exhausted and sodden though for rain had fell four nights continuously. Their patience stretched, that morning on the march, they fell out beside the road without command. Exhausted, the fatigue-struck men lay drinking from their water bottles when a senior Major of the Battalion shouted to them to get up and carry on "You darned rotten lot" he cried to be met a tirade of abuse. His fiery nature was well known and he took the salvo of insults with good humour. After a mug of tea, they were off again.
Just a few miles from their allotted start position for the forthcoming battle, it was becoming clear that a rest was needed if they were to be at their best the following day. Young, old, infirm, fit, keen and apprehensive, the men of this battalion covered and illustrated every walk of life. The acid test for these citizen soldiers drew near but the nickname of the "rotten mob" had stuck hard that day and in years to come, men would meet and ask "were you one of the rotten mob?"
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.