The month of June was a quiet one for the 15th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment.
Having arrived the previous month from the Middle East, they had throughout June been in a period of acclimatisation to the Western Front in a ‘quiet’ sector near Penin. Early in the month, the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel William Jarvis, left for several days to tour the trenches in a nearby sector, occupied by the Australians. Whilst he was away, the men started training with tanks in the large scale open warfare that their colleagues in the 7th and 9th Battalion’s had used to great effect the previous year.
Despite this earnest training, the Battalion was always at 9 hours notice to move. The lessons of the German March Offensive were that they blow could come at anytime, anywhere, though many now firmly believed that due to the lack of enemy activity of late, they had played their last card, but were not yet ready to leave the game.
At this time, the strength of the Battalion was 39 officers and 914 other ranks, but the acute man-power shortage of 1917, that had been made worse in March 1918, meant a further reorganisation and a reduction in the size of the infantry Battalion. On 17th June the War Diary noted: “A GHQ letter was received showing the new organisation of an infantry battalion. The strength was reduced to 900 O.R.s. Each platoon was to consist of 3 sections instead of 4. The Lewis gun section being reduced to 1 NCO and about 10 men. The Stokes, two sections with rifle sections of 1 NC0 and 6 OR each. No platoon was to go into action stronger than this.”
When the CO returned, he was made aware of the new organization. Frederick “Freddy” Weston Jarvis had already served with distinction in the Suffolk Yeomanry since 1882. Born into nobility in 1866, he was destined to have pursued a career in the families flourishing legal practice, had he not have become involved with his local troop of yeomanry in his early teens.
During the Boer War he had served with the Imperial Yeomanry and on detachment to the 13th Hussars at Elandslaagte and after the peace was signed, he remained in South Africa serving with the South African Constabulary. Already in his 50s when he look the Regiment to Gallipoli in 1915, he had been with them ever since.
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.