By mid-May 1918, the 15th Battalion had arrived in France from Egypt. Slightly under strength for War Establishment, they numbered 36 officers and 756 other ranks. After a period of some weeks training in numerous villages behind the lines around Bethune, they were brought into the front line at St. Venant in the Robecq sector of the line.
On 9th July, the Battalion took over from the 2/5th Worcesters late at night. ‘C’ and ‘B’ Company’s were placed in the front line with ‘A’ and ‘D’ Company’s in reserve behind in the “Amusoires – Haverskerque Defence Line”.
The front line was in this sector was at this stage, fragmented following battles their earlier in the year. It was almost a complete line again before the Battalion arrived and a few days work, finally got the line into a semblance of order. “After consolidation” detailed the War Diary “it was considered desirable to readjust the distribution to only hold the front line very lightly with one coy and keep two in the reserve line”.
By the 17th July, ‘B’ Company had been withdrawn leaving just ‘C’ Company in the front line. ‘B’ Company instead moved northwards to try and improve the line in the north near Calonne where the line was held by the Royal Sussex. “The line was not in a good state of upkeep when taken over and a lot of work had to be done which necessitated all ranks being up all night, which made the period an exceedingly tiring one, although in other respects, it was very quiet”.
In this period of quietness, the enemy seldom made an appearance and apart from the odd shot in the early hours or aircraft overhead, there was no real presence of the enemy. The Battalion therefore sent out numerous patrols to gain information on the enemy that confronted them. “Patrols were sent out every night but they never encountered any hostile ones: the Bosches seemed to rarely come out beyond his wire – owing to the standing crops it was exceedingly difficult to locate their patrols, if they had any out so as to try and ambush them”.
With Battalion HQ at Carvin Farm; about half way between the rear defensive line and the frontal positions, the C.O., Lieutenant-Colonel F.W. Jarvis, was much further forward than many of his contemporaries. The only casualty that the Battalion suffered at this time was a tragic one.
On 14th July, Private George Hawes of ‘D’ Company, was killed by accident as he jumped back into the front line trench after being out on a working party. “While working outside his trench the enemy opened fire with machine guns and Pte. Hawes jumping back into his trench impaled himself on his bayonet”
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.