On 17th November 1914, the 4th Battalion, who were newly arrived in France had a solemn duty to perform.
Colonel Frank Garrett; the Commanding Officer of the Battalion, took a detachment of 20 NCOs and men to a Memorial Service in St. Omer for Lord Roberts who had died on November 14th whilst visiting the Indian Brigade in France.
'Bobs' Roberts was a respected and venerated commander. For those older ranks who had served with the Volunteer Company's in South Africa, his passing marked the end of an era. Some saw it as the end of the old world coming to an end. From here onwards, warfare would be very different.
The 4th Battalion (T.F.) had arrived in France on 9th November, joining its counterparts; the 2nd Battalion in taking the fight to the Kaiser. Leaving Southampton on the S.S. Rosetti, they arrived in Le Havre and two days later they found themselves in St. Omer; the General Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force.
The first few days after their arrival in France were a time of swift learning. When the Battalion left England, they were armed with the old 'Long' Lee Enfield rifles. Although converted to charger loading some months before, they were sighted completely differently to the shorter SMLE (Short rifle, Magazine, Lee Enfield) that they were now issued with.
The Adjutant, Captain Cockburn, who was later to become the Chairman of the Suffolk Territorial Association in the 1930s, converted a neighbouring gravel pit into an impromptu rifle range and the men practiced daily in getting their musketry to an acceptable level.
The men were all in fine spirit and ready to go, but they knew that they still had a hard few weeks of intensive training before they were ready for front line service.
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.