"The General Form Will Be To Push On As Rapidly As Possible Behind The Cavalry. There Will Be No Bounds Laid Down”
To the men of the Suffolk Regiment, serving on the Western Front, little did they know that they were hours from an armistice with Germany.
Those fighting on other fronts already knew with much certainty that the end was in sight. Elements of the 1st Battalion has already become part of a "Gallipoli Occupation Force" and had for almost a week, been working with the defeated Turkish forces to remove the breech blocks from their artillery pieces that were stationed in the Dardanelles. They knew the end had come and with a return to Salonika and much spit and polish, the signs of peacetime soldiering were now creeping back into Army life.
The 2nd Battalion were repairing the roads near Frasnoy when on the 10th November, they were ordered to march to La Longueville, being the advance guard to the 3rd Division’s advance. La Longueville was on the other side of the town of Bavay where four years before, they had fallen back through during the retreat from Mons.
It was known to the Adjutant, Captain William French Burman and the Commanding Officer, Major Bill Chandler, that the Armistice must be imminent, for on the night of the 9th, orders were received concerning their march to La Longueville which contained the first mention of it.
“Whether an armistice is signed by Monday or not, the advance will take place and will be covered by a Brigade of Cavalry. If the armistice is signed the march will be at an ordinary pace. If the armistice is not concluded, the advance will be carried out in constant readiness for battle. The general form will be to push on as rapidly as possible behind the cavalry. There will be no bounds laid down”.
It seemed now that there were no bounds and that anything would be possible. At the current rate of advance, German soil seemed the goal to many and although the Brigade Commander was worried about resupplying a rapid advance, he knew that they should not hold back. “Rationing will be a difficulty, he wrote the Brigade will probably march with extra rations on the man. Men must be impressed with the urgent necessity of economising food as much as possible.” All non-essential kit was to be dumped at La Longueville, and the wagons were not to be overloaded. “Q.M.’s will only carry a few extra pairs of boots should they be in possession. Shoemakers tools will on no account be dumped”.
Just as Le Cateau four years before, the movement was to be done on foot. Then they had footslogged in retreat, but now they would footslog into victory. As Battalion HQ was the last for fall-in to the marching column, the Drums beat up and the Battalion set off.
It was 18 miles to La Longueville and the men were in good cheer.
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.