On 20th November 1917, 9th Suffolk advanced to attack the Hindenburg Line. As part of the 6th Division were to advance to a section of the Hindenburg Line between the villages of Beaucamp and Villiers Plouch. Two Companies would be in front support three tanks each (1 Platoon per), with two Companies behind.
‘A’ Company was to go first on the left, with ‘D’ in two waves behind them. On the right, a section of tanks supported by ‘B’ Company were to move first, with half of ‘C’ Company behind them. The other half of ‘C’ Company were behind ‘D’ Company in support. By 1.00am on the 20th all Companies were in position, and the men slept in their start positions close to the tanks they were to follow into battle. Zero hour was set for 6.20am, but about ten minutes before, the tanks roused the Battalion into life as the started their gentle lumber forward to their start positions.
At zero, the barrage commenced fully. “Suddenly” wrote the Regimental History “a German machine gun rapped out a few rounds and as the sound soon died away in the mist, a thousand British guns thundered forth in answer”. Soon the ground began to shake as large numbers rumbled forward and with them the infantry that followed in their correct formations. Second Lieutenant Fyffe, followed “Helen II”, Second Lieutenant Farland, followed “Huntress 10” and Second Lieutenant Philips followed “Heiland Laddie” in the forward wave of the attack.
In the middle Major Huntback brought a company of infantry forward, and in the rear of him, the second formation of tanks and infantry followed; Second Lieutenant Ferguson followed “Hermit”, Second Lieutenant Maycock followed “Hornets Beauty” whilst Lieutenant Davis followed “Harvester”.
The plan worked like clockwork and the advance continued at a steady pace. At about 200 yards short of ‘Plush Trench’ – the first real belt of the Hindenburg Line defences, the Battalion fanned out into extended order and advanced at a steady pace to take the first line of the enemy’s trench system. ‘Plush Trench’ was soon passed and the infantry continued onwards. However they were now beginning to outpace the tanks, who were now some 200 yards in the rear.
Out on the right flank, two of the three tanks advancing with ‘B’ Company were knocked out in no-mans-land and the third, lost direction due to a shed track and barred the infantry’s advance through the wire into the Hindenburg Line. In the land in between, the enemies shell fire caused many casualties. Though the barrage was “ineffective” it was concentrated causing the casualties. ‘A’ Company meanwhile, was making good its clearance of ‘Plush Trench’ and the other elements of the Battalion were close to taking their objectives in the Hindenburg Support Line.
At 9.05am, runners were bringing back messages to Battalion HQ that their objectives had been taken. “Enemy resistance had been futile and casualties slight. Coys were in touch with flank battalions”. Pleased with this news, the Battalion Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Latham, moved Battalion HQ forward into ‘Plush Trench’. Lieutenant Bryant who commanded ‘C’ Company, managed to get into contact with ‘B’ Company and its tanks on the left, and moved the half of the Company he had, to the northeast and proceed with the tanks towards the village of Marcoing.
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