"Thanks To The Endurance And Courage Of All Ranks, We Hung On To Our Hard Won Position, And Handed It Over Intact To Our Relief"
At 4.32 am on the morning of the 2nd March 1916, the attack began to win back the Bluff.
First, without any artillery cover, 'B' Company under the command of Captain Leeward on the extreme south of the Suffolk positions, moved off. Sweeping over the high ground in front of the Bluff, they rushed down either side of the crater caused by the explosion of 22nd January, and linked up with 'D' Company under the command of Lieutenant Barker, who were on the left flank. Together they consolidated the crater.
"Three minutes after" wrote a contemporary account in the Regimental Gazette, "the German S.O.S. rockets tore up the sky, and then their barrage was put in. This rather hung up the second company for a short time, but they swept onto their appointed places and tasks."
The third company; 'D' Company, under the command of recently promoted Captain Trollope, met with the full force of German fire; "they had to mine through this terrible curtain of shell fire, but managed to do so with not too much loss, and calmly set about their engineering business" - it was 'D' Company who were to provide the working parties for consolidation of the positions and each man in the opening waves had carried either a pick or a shovel into action to help him in this task.
Blocks were put up and bombing posts established so that the Bombers of 'B' and 'D' Company's could start lobbing bombs into the German second line. To the north, 'A' Company under Lieutenant Elkington, awaited a join up. By now, the dawn was breaking and he could make out through his field glasses, that the crater had been won. He could see the distinctive yellow patches issued the day before to aid recognition in battle, on the backs of the soldiers manning its lip. The patch, which was yellow with a black square in the middle, was worn between the shoulders on the rear of the jacket by 2nd Suffolk.
The leading sections could be seen scrambling around the Bluff and into the German lines beyond. Though their advance had been swift, they had not taken into account the German defenders of the position who were still deep underground. As the men rushed into the German line and started to consolidate, withering machine-gun fire came from the rear, taking a heavy toll. Company Sergeant Major Theobald of 'B' Company, took a party of bombers up on the high ground above and silenced the guns with a barrage of grenades. Those who were not dead scarpered back into the dugouts; the entrances of which, were covered by snipers, who picked off those who re-emerged.
Back at the crater, the beginning of 48 hours of German artillery bombardment began, but defiantly, 2nd Suffolk held on. Under this hail of shrapnel, carrying parties continually brought up small arms ammunition and bombs to the men the crater, allowing them to hold on until relieved on the evening of the 3rd March.
"To add to the general unpleasantness of two days shelling" continued the report, "on the night we were relieved, the weather changed to wind and snow, and turned the already muddy ground into an almost impossible icy slush and caused the communication trenches to be practically useless. But thanks to the endurance and courage of all ranks, we hung on to our hard won position, and handed it over intact to our relief, and managed to get clear away before it got light,"
2nd Suffolk had regained the Bluff and it was back in Allied hands once more.
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.