On 6th August 1916, the 8th Battalion, marched along with the 6th Royal Berks, to Dickebusch. Here just behind the line, they were addressed by the Commander of IInd Corps, Lieutenant-General Sir Claude Jacob.
Sir Claude gathered the two Battalions together to congratulate them and to thank them for their efforts on the first day of the battle at Sanctuary Wood. It was clear by his sitting words that he was impressed by their limited success in view of the complete failure of the 30th Division to even achieve the first of their allowed objectives, which caused these two Battalions to have to complete the tasks of a Division, when they were not even the strength of a Brigade (when combined).
"You started off alright" Sir Claude said "everything went splendidly, and then when you were going for attack you learned that the 30th Division had not got the 'Black line' and you had to do it for them. It was bad luck. We are all pleased with the action and that of the Commanding Officers of the Suffolks and Berkshires. They did absolutely the right thing, and they did the job the 30th Division should have done."
"I am grateful" he continued "and congratulate you on your work. Do not think for one moment that your work was a disappointment; you did absolutely the right thing. My only regret is that you could not start from the original line. You had a lot of casualties, but they cannot, unfortunately, be helped."
For a Battalion that felt slightly disrupted, these were inspiring words. Alluding to the weather that had been pretty dire for the past few days he concluded his speech by saying "I am absolutely certain you will show the 'Bosche' at least, what a splendid fighting lot you are. You have always been so, and have always played the game in the field. I am grateful to you and thank you for the work that you have done."
Within days his words would be in print in newspapers in England. The division that failed; the 30th was not mentioned but was replaced with a censored "-" in Sir Claude's published speech. For 8th Suffolk, they were already back in the line when their relatives at home began to learn of their great feat on that first day of battle.
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.