"The Scope Of The Operation Was Bigger, And Altogether More Ambitious Than Any Previous Attack In Which The Battalion Had Been Involved"
"About 3 1/2 hours after the barrage started (Zero) the Batt., according to plan, formed up in "artillery formation" and began to advance, to take up the advance from where the Div. in front had halted" wrote Sydney Fuller, but as they began to advance, the enemy directed his fire upon them causing many casualties; "As soon as we began to move" wrote Fuller "we were heavily shelled by the enemy, 4.2"s and whizz-bangs, and many of our men were killed and wounded. It was evident from the way this shelling was done, that we could be seen by the enemy - it was the troops out in the open, to the left of Sanctuary Wood, which were shelled the worst and as they continued to advance, the enemy's shelling followed them".
Lieutenant Bolingbroke, who was out in front with the Battalion Scouts, was trying desperately to find a way to keep going on. As they reached the outskirts out "Sanctuary Wood" they came under fire from a well conceived sniper, who claimed the lives of at least three of the Scouts before his position was located and he was killed. Just after 6.00 am, Bolingbroke sent word back to state that he observed that the 30th Division were on the north side of the Menin road and into "Chateau Wood".
As the troops advanced into the splintered remains of Sanctuary Wood, it was evident that they artillery fire here was "broadcast" and spread indiscriminately along a wide expanse of ground. It was quite different to the accurate shel fire that the enemy had brought down in the advancing Suffolks. "This was not as planned" wrote Fuller "for the Div. in front of us should have by now captured the whole of the first ridge in front and the enemy should therefore have been unable to see the ground we were advancing over. However, we pressed on, and soon reached the german front line of a few hours before. This was not a "trench" in the ordinary sense of the word, being "banked up" instead of being "dug in" owing to the marshy nature of the ground. Here we came under heavy rifle and machine gun fire, the air seeming full of bullets".
Back at the far edge of the wood, a platoon of “B” company under Lieutenant Chibnall, was the first to make contact with the remaining scouts and Lieutenant Bolingbroke. These two Officers decided to combine forces and attack the Second line in an areas around a destroyed farmhouse called "Surbiton Villa". With as many troops as they could muster, they advanced. No sooner had they got up from cover, the enemy spotted them and directed their fire upon them.
The line was however taken, but Lieutenant Chibnall and Sgt. J. Mason were killed and Lieutenant Bolingbroke severely wounded leading his platoon forward. Gallantry was seen also at "Surbiton Villa" by Pte F.J. Read who, with a small party of “A” Company, rushed a German machine-gun, killing the whole team.
In Sanctuary Wood, the Battalion halted, caught its breath and awaited the next move.
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.