On 25th July 1915, Private Sydney Fuller, 8th (Service) Battalion, made a routine entry into his diary. Today its title was however underlined "The Great Day" - Burnt the straw from our beds during the morning and handed in our blankets etc. 120 rounds of ammunition were issued to each man - the real article this time. Hitherto only blank had been issued except when firing on the butts." This was finally the real thing.
In addition to identity discs and first field dressings issued for overseas service, each man received his paybook. Army Book No. 64 contained in a brown linen cover, his particulars of service, inoculations, next of kin, will etc. and for their journey overseas, a small slip of loose paper was issued to each man to stick into the front of his paybook. The slip bore the words of Field Marshal Lord kitchener and impressed upon setting an example overseas and of being of a conduct befitting that of a British soldier. It ended by saying "In this new experience, you may find temptations both in wine and women. You must entirely resist both temptations, and, while treating all women with perfect courtesy, you should avoid any intimacy."
From Wylye station near to Codford, the 8th Battalion travelled on two specially chartered trains to take them to Folkestone and then across to France. A and B Company's left first at 4.20pm with C and D Company's following at 4.50pm. The journey was a long one taking some five hours to get to Folkestone via Salisbury, Andover Junction, Whitchurch, Basingstoke, Hook, Woking, guildford, Shalford, Chilworth, Dorking, Reigate, Red Hill junction and Paddock Wood.
The journey on the RMS 'Victoria' took around an hour and a half, arriving at Boulogne around 11.30pm. After a short march, they arrived in a tented camp at Ostrohove where Fuller noted he was issued one blanket and that his 'bivvy' leaked.
Two days previously, the advance party of 3 officers and 110 other ranks had left arriving in La Havre on the 25th. Now Including these men, the Battalion's strength was 34 officers and 987 other ranks, and a chaplain (Rev. Donald Fraser). Another Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment was off to war.
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.