13th October 1915 was to be 'D-Day' for the 7th (Service) Battalion, The Suffolk Regiment.
On the previous afternoon (the 12th), the CO, Lieutenant-Colonel Parry Crooke, had been called away to a conference at Brigade HQ and informed that they were to attack two abandoned German trenches in front of the known as the 'Hair-pin" - the name coined by their appearance on trench maps.
Upon his return, Parry Crooke and the Adjutant, Captain Gadd, went on a short reconnoitre along the front line to view their field of attack for the following day. Satisfied, they returned to Battalion HQ in their dug-out and Parry Crooke dictated Battalion Order No. 42 for the forthcoming attack.
The infantry attack would commence at 2.00pm, 15 minutes after the bombers had started their attack. The bombers would however continue to bomb throughout the attack, providing covering smoke and support as required. Through their artillery, the infantry would set off at 1.50pm. Simultaneously 'A' and 'B' Companys would mount the parapet and start to bomb their way along each apex of two trenches that formed a point at the enemy wire. 'A' Company, under Captain Cobbold, to the north, 'B' Company, under Captain Curry, to the south. Advance would be made along each trench line by bombing diagonal to the line of advance. Advance would then continue under cover in the trench. They would then bomb again, and then advance and so on. Once at the end of the trench, they were to call up reinforcements to dig through and relink the two trenches, thus reforming the 'hair-pin'.
Extra bombs would be made available in boxes at all trench junctions and drinking water for the exclusive use of the assaulting troops was to be on hand in buckets if required. Walking wounded would make their own way back to the Regimental Aid Post, whilst additional stretcher bearer teams would be on hand, ready to move forward up the captured trenches when the link-up was made.
As supplies were brought up for the morning, the men emptied their pockets of all letters and maps as per the Battalion Order. One young Lieutenant, took a sheath of letters and poems he had written in secret and thrust them into his sleeping kit in his dug-out. He did not wish to loose them in the attack, nor get reprimanded for carrying them contrary to the order. Would he survive the following day to return and reclaim them?
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.