“The Divisional Commander Congratulates All Ranks On The Fact That The Division Has Captured All Objectives"
Lieutenant Taylor went in advance with about half a Company, and got to within 300 yards from Marcoing. Along the way he had found other parts of the Company’s on the left who had managed to reach the valley along the river between Ribecourt and Marcoing.
Lieutenant Bryant was soon with them, having moved his men along the railway that ran beside the river. Virtually all of the Battalion were now beyond the first belt of enemy defences and were in the land between the Hindenburg Line and the Hindenburg Support Line that was approx. half a mile to its rear.
As these two elements of the Battalion edged towards Marcoing, they were heavily snipped at, causing a great deal of casualties. However, the Battalion moved quickly into artillery formation and continued the advance. Soon the enemy’s positions were overcome and a solitary sniper extracted from the rubble of a cottage on the outskirts of the village.
Turning east, they entered the remains of the village. The enemy had all but disappeared and “resistance was nil” as the War Diary noted. Lieutenant Taylor and one platoon remained in the vicinity of the ruined church, and to systematically mop- up any enemy that remained in the cellar and ruins of the village. Lieutenant Hopkin continued the advance and pushed eastward through the village toward the St. Quentin canal and held the bridges across it until the 29th Division passed through.
By now the remains of ‘C’ Company, accompanied by tanks, were at the church and within a few hours, other units arrived to strengthen the positions in Marcoing. The Battalion now fell back to the Hindenburg Line near Battalion HQ. The day had been one of unqualified success. It was by far, the largest advance any Battalion of infantry of the Suffolk Regiment had made since the beginning of the war; almost five miles. Practice and close co-operation with the tanks had been the key to success, but so had been the drive and initiative of the young subalterns who could see that the way was clear to advance to Marcoing and continued to take the village.
One other rank was killed and wounded in the village itself, and a haul of over thirty prisoners had been taken in the village, with over a hundred more in the advance through the Hindenburg Line itself.
A message was received later that evening at Battalion HQ: “Divisional commander congratulates all ranks on the fact that the Division has captured all objectives, taken 16 officers, 700 OR prisoners including two Battalion Commanders. This is the best bag for the day. Three guns have also been captured. The brigade commander adds his congratulations on the very successful issue of the days fight”
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.