On 21st August 1918, 2nd Suffolk moved off to attack the village of Courcelles.
Advancing at 4.55 am in an artillery formation, within minutes, all communication was lost between Company’s and the C.O. Lieutenant-Colonel G.C. Stubbs, due to thick mist. The C.O. decided therefore that he would instead advance in column of route and split platoons up at 50 yards intervals when advancing. This way they could just about see each other, but were far enough apart to cause any serious casualties to the shelling.
The village was reached without difficulty and consolidation began. “Here smoke barrage added to the confusion and it was necessary to keep to the village in order to keep direction” wrote Stubbs, “it was found that the village was still being mopped up. The Battalion on getting through the village turned south to get on its objective line where it found elements of 9th Inf. Bde some of whom were reported on the railway, but there was still a good deal of MG opposition”. When the mist lifted, at around 11.00 am, these machine gun positions were quickly dealt with.
Keeping in close touch with the other Regiment’s out in front (King’s Liverpool’s and the Northumberland Fusiliers) Stubbs now moved Battalion HQ forward. By now he had three Company’s along the railway line (running north to south) and one on the left flank, but as the Germans were still in number on the other side of the railway to the south, it made any further movement difficult.
Casualties that day included the Reverend G.C. Danvers M,C., C.F., (above) who had led the famous church service on Easter Sunday 1917 just before the Battle of Arras. He had gone forward with units of Battalion HQ and had been wounded in the process. He had done the same back in March at Wancourt when the great German Offensive broke their line. There he had won himself the Military Cross, his citation recording the bravery of the Battalion's padre: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in caring for the wounded and collecting and burying the dead, and organising stretcher parties under fire. When owing to heavy casualties amongst them, no bearers were available, he went forward through a heavy barrage dress a man's wounds and thereby saved his life."
The Battalion remained on the western side of the railway until 9.00 pm when it was relived.
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.
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