And so after 141 days, the battle of the Somme officially came to a close. It had been a mixed four and a half months for the six Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment involved in the campaign with tragedy, triumph, victory and defeat all being experienced at one time by each of the Battalions that fought there.
The 2nd Battalion had a tough time at Longueval, and later at Serre. The 4th Battalion showed great gallantry at High Wood, but could not exploit their gains. The 7th Battalion were hammered bitterly at Ovillers, and later, at Bayonet Trench. The 8th Battalion were knocked at Trones Wood, but arose gallantly to take Thiepval. The 9th tried in vain to take the Quadrilateral and failed, and the 11th Battalion took such a battering at La Boiselle on the first day, that they had not fully recovered by the end of the campaign.
There had been countless awards for gallantry. Senior commanders praised their efforts and actions, but by the end of the campaign, the Regiment was learning and learning every day. In a war of constant evolution, lessons learned during previous attacks were reviewed and analysed and suggestions made for future offensives.
By the end of the campaign, though tangibly no real great tracts of ground been taken, the German Armies had been dealt a blow from which they never fully recovered. Though it did not seem like it to many in the front line, their actions on the Somme, made the Germans realise that it would be impossible to stem such an army should it ever attack again, and by the end of the year, the German Chiefs had already consoled that a withdrawal back beyond their defensive bulwark; the 'Hindenburg Line' would be inevitable.
For fifty years, the actions of the British Army on the Somme have been portrayed as ones of bunging ineptitude. Of delusional, old-fashioned generals wilfully sending men off to die in ground pitted with shell holes full of mud. If our posts here over these past months have shown you anything, it is that is was in no way like this, and that we, one hundred years on, should never forget their deeds and sacrifices in this, the pivotal battle that turned the course of the Great War.
Sidney Appleyard, a Great War veteran with the Queen Victoria's Rifles, wrote in 1966 upon the 50th anniversary of the battle; "I think this anniversary will be the last. When it comes to 75 years, we'll all be dead, and the Somme will seem as abstract as Waterloo."
How wrong he was. They are not, and will not, be 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.