On 16th June 1915 to the west of Ypres, the British 3rd Division launched an attack against the German positions in front of “Railway” wood and beyond it to the south, “Y” wood. These two paths of woodland were apply named for an old railway ran through the former and the latter was in the shape of a 'Y.'
The Battalion were at that time, pretty much in the same positions that had been occupied by the 1st Batalion at the end of May. On their front line was the wrecked shell of Witte Port Farm, and close behind, the small cemetery named 'Machine Gun Farm.'
The attack, which began at 4.15am, was behind a creeping barrage. B and D Company’s successfully followed it reaching 'Y' Wood shortly afterwards without casualties. Once through, they continued their advance behind the barrage.
However, a miscalculation of timing, coupled with the advance slowing on the other side of the wood, meant that the allied bombardment was now inflicting casualties in the Suffolk’s ranks. After six hours of fighting the Suffolk attack had ground to a halt.
Around 10.00am sections of the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry and the Kings Royal Rifle Corps (part of 14th Division) arrived in the Suffolk’s start line trenches to push forward through the Battalions frontal positions and launch a new attack south eastwards in the direction of Hooge; which straddled the Menin Road.
However poor intelligence and a lack of guides, only resulted partial elements of these two battalions reaching the front line. They were instead scattered the length and breadth of the roads and trenches from Ypres to the crossroads known as 'Hellfire Corner" some 300 yards in the rear of the Suffolk trenches.
“With the help of all our orderlies and servants to show them the way” wrote the Battalion War Diary, they eventually succeeded in getting the bulk of these Battalions into the front line trenches around 2.00pm, but not before they had seriously exposed themselves to both enemy artillery fire on the journey to the front line – a journey that would have normally been conducted at night, for 'Hellfire Corner' was aptly named being a magnet for German artillery.
The War Diary went onto note that they “suffered immense and unnecessary casualties through exposing themselves to artillery in known bad spots” With half the Battalion in forward positions, and half still in the front line, space was at a premium, but since B and D Company's were holding the line sucessfully in 'Y' wood, the rest of the Battalion moved forward to join them under cover of darkness that night.
It had for a change, been a day of success rather than failure.
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.