At 4.00pm on the afternoon of the 12th August, the CO of the 5th Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Armes, ordered the Battalion to advance on the Turkish positions in front of them.
In a Brigade attack, 163rd Brigade, of which 5th Suffolk were part, advanced. The orders they were given, were to clear the ground of the snipers they had experienced on the night of their landing. "The men were in excellent spirits" wrote a commentator in the Regimental Gazette of the following March "and looked forward to the job, as one man remarked, instead of grouse driving, we are going sniper driving on the famous twelfth"
5th Suffolk took the left flank, 5th Norfolk the right and 8th Hants in the centre. Almost immediately, the Turks poured forth their deadly fire. Concentrated Turkish artillery and machine gun fire caused many casualties. A survivor recalled "Almost immediately men dropped out wounded before we had covered twenty yards. Down one slope in snake formation, over two hills and then in extended order, for the open hills, that loomed like mountains ahead of us, with the salt lake on our right. Now we came under withering fire from the enemy's machine guns. Our left flank now being well enfiladed. The line never wavered, the men going on like seasoned soldiers and not like men having their baptismal fire"
After about 1000 yards, the attack began to falter. However they pressed on. From the scrub, they advanced through fields of corn and onwards into vineyards full with figs and peaches. Though tempting, they were not yet ripe. With no cover, these inexperienced Territorials began to bunch up causing a mass in the centre of the advancing line, which the Turks exploited mercilessly. Small groups of Suffolk's pushed forward trying to continue the advance but were picked off one by one.
Seeing that any further advance was useless against an enemy that had remained safe in his deeply entrenched positions, the Brigade Commander called a halt. The Battalion were ordered to withdraw some two hundred yards to a position close to that they had occupied briefly on the night they landed. Ironically, give or take a yard or two, they would remain in these positions until they were evacuated the following January.
"I must add a word of praise for the sterling leadership of our officers" wrote a member of 5th Suffolk the following year, "Lieutenant-Colonel Armes was in the foremost line encouraging us and our Adjutant Captain Lawrence worked like a Trojan."
The Battalion lost their CO that day. Lieutenant-Colonel William Morriss Armes (known as Morriss) died in his first action. He was 43 years old and was the managing director of a large weaving firm in Sudbury that specialised in the manufacture of coconut matting which was exported all over the world. From an early age he dreamed of becoming a professional soldier, but with the sudden death of his father when he was just 16, the family business needed him, robbing the army of a "superb" soldier. Serving as a Territorial was perhaps some consolation to him.
Armes was leading his men forward when he was hit in the chest. He fell immediately but still urged his men on. Propped up on his knees, he was shot several more times. The final wound to the head proved fatal. Private Harvey who witnessed the action, struggled to get help for the wounded Colonel but failed as all the stretcher bearers were busy with other fatalities. He ran back to the Regiment's lines to summon assistance, but was shot in the leg. As the line fell back, he was left in the scrub and it took him a further two days to crawl back in excruciating pain, to the Suffolk lines, but by then it was too late.
The Colonel's body was never recovered and despite repeated family appeals to the Red Cross for information - which was then subsequently passed to the Red Crescent in Constantinople, all inquiries proved fruitless. He is remembered today on the memorial at Helles.
Though the Turk claimed many lives that day, another deadly enemy has reared its head on the battlefield. Disease was a new enemy to be contended with at Gallipoli. Almost 150 men had already gone sick since landing and dysentery was gradually taking it's toll on the Battalion.
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.