The days of early September had for the 2nd Battalion, been ones of yet more casualties. On average 2 men a day were being wounded in the area behind the lines where the Battalion were stationed on Pioneering work.
They had been withdrawn from the front line in late August and had been working on repairing the roads in the area around Ouderdom, between Ypres and Poperinge. Daily, shells were fired into their area causing casualties. The strain must have been too much for one member of the Battalion for on the afternoon of 15th September, the HQ Company Cook, No. 6972, Private Clements, was found dead behind the Cookhouse in an area near the Kuisstraat. He had committed suicide.
His end was met with shock by many who had seen his posting to the Cookhouse the previous month, as the first step on the road to recuperation. He had been with the Battalion since June and was one of the first to arrive after the battles at Bellewaarde Wood, but long periods of front line service had caused him to begin to crack and his platoon commander, seeing that a breakdown was inevitable, arranged to have him temporarily transferred to the Cookhouse, to get him away from the action for a rest.
Officially, Charles Clements death was an embarrassment. He was an old reservist, called back after his service had ended, but he had missed numerous drafts to the front in early 1915, due to his poor eyesight. He joined the Regiment in 1904 and was considered a steady hand by many. His death was a clear sign that the war was taking a mental toll on many a hardened old Suffolk Soldier.
Initially he was denied a place on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, but after much campaigning by the then C.O., Colonel A.M. Cutbill (who was at the time Clements died, a PoW in Germany), his name was added as an addendum to the last panel on the memorial. War made the unlikely, heroes, and the hardened, tame, but 100 years on, he is not forgotten.
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.