In the bitter slogging match that the Battle of Loos was becoming, another Suffolk Battalion was pushed into the assault. For the 7th (Service) Battalion, the attack against the Quarries and the capture of ‘Hair-pin’ trench were the major actions in which they were to fight.
The task of 35th Brigade of the 12th (Eastern) Division, of which 7th Suffolk were part, was to advance eastwards in the direction of Haisnes. The chief objective of the Battalion was to re-link the two abandoned spurs of the front line know as the “Hair-pin” - the name coined from their appearance on maps. At their apex, the two lines touched the German front line. Attempts to push forward and link them together had all failed in the weight of heavy enemy fire. The plan this time was however to use teams of bombers to edge forward foot by foot to take the trenches. Bombing teams, specially formed and trained were to be used and such were the numbers of bombs required for this action that in one platoon in each Company, each man carried one box of bombs (12 bombs in each box), with further boxes of bombs placed at all trench junctions if needed.
On the 13th October 1915, a ferocious bombardment commenced against the German lines at 12.00 noon and lasted for two hours. When it had finished, the Germans retaliated but Suffolk casualties were slight. At 2.00pm the Suffolks advanced, but they started off 15 minutes later than they should have. The attacking order was a party of bombers, followed by a platoon of infantry, followed by a further bombing party, with two platoons of infantry in the rear. Each man in these two rear platoons was to carry either a pick or a shovel, to make good the positions when captured. Each bombing party consisted of eight men, commanded by an officer. It was going to be thirsty work so supplies of drinking water were brought up to the very front line and were to be “used exclusively by troops after the attack.” ‘B’ Company under Major Curry, advanced first under cover of smoke against the southern side of the ‘Hair-pin” and reached its apex. His platoon commanders advancing in lines with their men, used their bombing teams in 50 yard intervals. However at the last minute, the smoke lifted exposing Curry and his Company in the open. German machine guns brought down terrible fire, bringing down many men. Major Curry, along with Lieutenants C.W.L. Hartopp and R. Lee were killed. Lieutenant V.A. Davoren was badly wounded, leaving no commanders left still in command in ‘B’ Company. 75 men were lost during this first assault. Meanwhile, to the north of the “Hair-pin” ‘A’ Company under Captain C.A. Cobbold, advanced southwards towards the upper apex of the “Hair-pin.” His advance was headed by teams of bombers from both 7th Suffolk and 7th Norfolks, who were chucking their bombs, advancing into the smoke they created and so on. Progress along the northern edge seemed painfully slow and when the end seemed in sight, the wind lifted smoke giving the German machine gunners a clear target.
Captain Cobbold was killed on the German parapet and Lieutenant D.C. Smith was wounded at the outset. Lieutenant P. Gedge; who was the machine gun officer, succeeded in getting his guns into the bottom end of the northern edge of the “Hair-pin” but whilst dragging a tripod into the trench, he was killed. Cobbold’s replacement, Captain Chitty-Thomas pushed forward and with much hard work succeeded in reaching the apex of the “Hair-pin.” Now he needed help to consolidate.
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.