On the 31st May 1915, the 7th Battalion arrived at Boulogne. They were the first of the war-raised "Service" Battalions to set foot on the continent.
At 4.00pm the previous afternoon, they had paraded complete at Aldershot with officers horses, bicycles and limber carts. A photograph was taken to record the entire battalion before they left for war.
The Battalion had for several months now, been dressed in khaki, the only Service Battalion of the Regiment to do so. Their counterparts in the 8th, 9th and 11th all having been issued blue uniforms instead. There was it appears, an acute shortage of cap badges so many early recruits to the 7th Battalion were issued old obsolete Victorian ones instead and many continued to wear them throughout the war.
The Battalion had in the proceeding months been occupied in heavy training as part of the 12th (Eastern) Division and under the command of Major C.D. Parry Crooke, who had left the 3rd Battalion at Felixstowe, they had excelled in their Brigade, particularly in musketry.
At. 5.40pm, one officer took half the Battalion by train from Aldershot to Folkestone to prepare for embarkation and 40 minutes later, the remainder of the Battalion left to join them. Upon arrival, the first draft boarded the “Invicta” and later that evening, the second draft boarded the “Queen.” By 4.20am on the 31st, both drafts had landed at Boulogne and were preparing to march forward to the railhead at Brignes to catch a train to take them to their concentration area at Lumbres near Acquin, just to the west of St. Omer.
A young fresh volunteer who was also setting foot in France that day, was Horace Hills from Chatteris (above). He joined 7th Suffolk in August 1914 and managed to convince the Recruiters at Ely that he was 19 years old. He was in fact just days past his 15th birthday!
Another Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment was off to war. They were now the fourth in France.
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.