For the 2nd Battalion, they had come through. It was they that had fought the longest. For a Battalion that had left the Curragh in August 1914, they had evolved beyond all recognition. From a pre-war generation of officers and men who had been lost or captured at Le Cateau, a new generation had emerged. Through Ypres in 1915, they evolved to take the Bluff in March of 1916 before they entered the Somme offensive in July. At Longueval they had done well, but later at Serre they could make no headway. Into 1917 they ‘enjoyed’ a haighly successful first day at Arras, before they entered the melting pot of Third Ypres. Taking Zonnebeke with great speed, it was a great victory but those who followed, lost it again. As the tide turned in the March Offensive of 1918, they held their ground near Arras, but were pushed back, but in the Hundred Days offensive, they continually pushed the Germans back over the Canal du Nord back to the their old fighting ground close to Le Cateau.
As the Battalion prepared to move from La Longueville, a cadre was formed in preparation for a move into Germany. It was expected by all that until the enemy were brought to the peace table, in order to keep the peace, an Army of Occupation would be needed.
As preparations were made to have the Colours brought out to the Battalion from their wartime home at the Depot at Bury St. Edmunds, the clerks worked out the strength of the Battalion. It soon became known that of the entire Battalion, just seven men had survived from that first draft that set foot in France in August 1914.
The East Anglian Daily Times newspaper noted in an article a few days later “The following originally went out with the 2nd Battalion, and have returned with the cadre: R.S.M. O. Parkinson, M.C., Sergt. W. Searle, Corpl. J Sparrow, Lance-Corpl. W. Denton, Lance-Corpl. W. Stone, Pte. A. Dorking, and Pte. W. Lant”
William ‘Buller’ Searle (above) was one of that seven. He was born in 1897 and enlisted into 2nd Suffolk in 1912. Wounded at Serre in late 1916, he returned home on leave and married his fiancé Nellie Hunt from Wiltshire, in Cambridge in January 1917 (above). A distant relative of Ronald Searle, the cartoonist, Buller's daughter Olive, would later marry a Suffolk soldier who fought with the 1st Battalion in Normandy.
The Suffolk Regiment was always part of their family.
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.