Just to the north of the 2nd Battalion, the 7th Battalion were having great success at the Battle of Arras.
Their Division, the 12th (Eastern), had remained underground whilst the initial waves advanced above them. They had had the unpleasant honour of having remained underground in part of the town sewer system for many hours, before they were moved along the tunnels to their ground level entrances.
Their line of advance was along the Cambria road, about 200 yards to the north of the colleagues in 2nd Suffolk. The task allotted to the Battalion was to breach the German front line just west of "Orange" Hill and capture with their counterparts in 9th Essex, the Feuchy-Chapel Redoubt. At 12.15pm, their counterparts in 35th Brigade advanced. 7th Norfolks and 5th Royal Berks moved first, making their objective the "Blue" line which was within 35 minutes in Allied hands. As they consolidated their gains, 7th Norfolk and 9th Essex advanced through them and onto their objective; the Feuchy Chapel Redoubt.
"On the capture of the Blue line" wrote the Divisional History, "The Germans, becoming disorganised, were caught on the run, and 35th Brigade had the Joy of seeing them retreating in disorder." Onwards, both Battalions advanced up a gentle incline from the "Blue" line for their objective was close to the "Brown" line about 1500 yards further on. Parallel to the Cambrai road they ran, taking everything in their stride.
After about 850 yards, the road had a left hand spur towards the village of Monchy-Le-Preux, and it was here that the Feutchy-Chapel redoubt was situated. The Essex succeeded in gaining the Redoubt almost immediately, but 7th Suffolk were stoppedon the southern side of the objective by withering machine gun fire from a German position known as "Church Work."
The Battalion Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel F.S. Cooper, decided that it was too big an objective to assault that afternoon. He therefore decided that his men should dig in along the Feuchy-Neuville Vitasse road that ran due south. These positions could be held and strengthened, and from there a further advance could be launched again in the morning. Casualties had been as expected, but were less than predicted. The majority of those lost, were caught in withering crossfire from a heavy German machine-gun nest around "Maison Rouge" - astride the Cambrai Road, but this was soon silenced by the Royal Berks, allowing 7th Suffolk to continue towards the Redoubt."
As the men dug-in, the weather turned again. The crisp fine weather of the day's advance, with a smattering of snow on the ground, now gave way to an evening of heavy sleet and a heavy snow storm. However at first light, the Battalion advanced and took Church Work with only the minimum of casualties.
Another success, for another Suffolk Battalion at Arras.
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.