For 2nd Suffolk the pace of war had suddenly quickened. After the advance to Rumilly, their next allotted objective was to take the village of Seranvilliers.
The attacks of the past days caused casualties which necessitated the reorganisation of the Battalion. The Adjutant, Captain William French Burman, was promoted to Second in Command of the Battalion and Lieutenant Coote, a young subaltern was pressed into the role.
Looking out from Battalion HQ, 2/Lieut. Bailey could see the position in the valley below him. “The Companies were seen in position by 2/Lt. W.G. Bailey. 3 Coys in front ‘’X’ on the right in touch with 2nd Rifles, ‘Z’ in the centre, and ‘Y’ on the left in touch with the Kings Liverpool, with ‘W’ Company in support”.
At 4.30am, Zero hour, the advance began. “The Red Line was captured without much resistance” and the Battalion pressed onto the second line objective, the “Green Line”. In fact the advance was so swift that just after 10.00am, they were close to the village of La Targette; almost the entire distance covered from the Canal du Nord to Rumilly in one great advance. “A number of prisoners were taken in the village and in shell holes” wrote the War Diary. Then, orders were received to work around the south of the village and wait for a fresh attack by the Battalion in the north to go in, and they would then rejoin them on the other side of the village.
Then came a counter order, to withdraw back 200 yards from La Targette and collect the troops on the left, who had floundered. “These orders came up just in time but there was no barrage and heavy casualties resulted. The enemy shelled our forward positions very heavily for some hours. At dusk the fire died down and the enemy retreated leaving a few machine guns in La Targette.” Remaining where they were, the 1st Gordon Highlanders took the village with relative ease the following morning at daybreak. Later that day, the Guards took over the Suffolk positions and retired back to Havrincourt.
The day had not been without loss. Ten other ranks killed and 104 wounded. The highest loss rate for some months. One of those to fall was No. 23464, Private Bert Robinson. A 27 year old from Cambridge, he was typical of those conscripted in 1917 into the Army. By those days of 1918, the largest majority of men in the ranks of 2nd Suffolk were conscripts.
Officers too suffered heavily depleting already thin ranks. Out in front with their men, five were wounded in the attack: 2/Lieut. Pridcock, Lieut. Percy, Lieutenant Cooper, Lieut. Raven, Lieut. Thursby. With the exception of Thursby, who had been with the Battalion since July, all the other had joined the Battalion in the last few weeks. Now, there were more 2/Lieutenants and lieutenants, than Captains and Majors. Three of the four Company’s were commanded by Lieutenants.
With thanks to www.ww1cemeteries.com for the image of Bert
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.