“In All The Many Thousands Who Have Fallen For Their Country, None Have Shown Or None Will Ever Show, Greater Devotion To Duty Than Your Husband....The Very Best Type Of An English Gentleman"
The loss on 15th September at the Quadrilateral of Lieutenant-Colonel A.P. Mack, was much mourned by his superiors.
Arthur Paston Mack came from a military family. He had himself been a member of the Suffolk Militia back in the 1880s and had retired from its service at the rank of Captain in 1886. Like his contemporary, Charlie Brett of 2nd Suffolk, he travelled much in his wilderness years between postings and Mack went to Egypt where he became known as something of a "Pioneer" in the desert, trying his hand at archeology, oil exploration and mining.
When the Austrian Archduke was assassinated, he saw that war was coming ever closer, and abandoned his business ventures in Egypt and returned home. Upon the eve of war, he was once more back in uniform, this time khaki, and given back his old retired rank of Captain. Ready for action, he signed the "Imperial Service Obligation" the same day he re-enlisted, and was soon at Brighton where in September, he was given command of a Company of the newly created 9th (Service) Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment.
By January, promotion to Major had come and by June of 1915, a further promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel, and command of the Battalion. Crossing with it to France, he slipped from the gang plank upon disembarkation, injuring his foot; an injury that spared him action at Loos, but from then onwards until the day he was killed in action a year later, there was seldom a time he was not with the Battalion. His holding together the Battalion in the face of vicious artillery fire and deadly poisoned gas in December 1915 at St. Jean, earned him high praise from his superiors.
Mack's loss was a blow for the Brigade. Upon hearing the news of his death, his Brigadier wrote to his wife stating that “In all the many thousands who have fallen for their country, none have shown or none will ever show, greater devotion to duty than your husband. He was known by all, by none better than me, as being a very gallant officer, a splendid soldier, and, if I may say so, the very best type of an English gentleman. He did so much for the brigade by his unswerving devotion to duty and his unceasing labors. He did not know what fear was. He made a name for himself at the time of the gas attack on my brigade on the 19th December 1915”
Lieutenant-Colonel Mack was Mentioned-in-Dispatches in January 1917 by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, for gallant and distinguished service in the field (his actions at the Quadrilateral). Though his loss was mourned within the Battalion, it's new commander; Mayor F. Latham DSO, was keen that the fight must go on and within days, the depleted Battalion were back in action on the Somme at Bernafay Wood, showing that they still very much possessed the fighting spirit.
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.