Since mid-June 1918, the 11th Battalion had occupied the front line in the St. Floris sector. Casualties had been slight in July with just 2 Other Ranks killed and 3 wounded, however for all this stagnation, the enemy was still very much active.
The dark days of the March Offensive behind them, the Battalion had been in and out of the line the previous weeks, occupied in much training. The War Diary noted a routine of training and fatigues, intermingled with 'recreational training' Lewis gun drills and 'forming up at night.'
By the 6th August after a farewell Church Parade at the training camp at Linghem, they were back in the line behind the village of La Lacque, north west of Bethune. Upon their arrival, they remained in Divisional Reserve, but all around them, the front line was buzzing with activity. Something was going to happen soon.
The intent training of the previous weeks was the preliminary stage to the next great Allied offensive on the Western Front. Upon arrival in the front line, the brigade bombers had already pushed out on reconnaissance and had established the enemy strength on the left of the village. Soon orders were received for them to move in the early hours of the 8th August into their frontal positions.
"Surplus personnel" were left behind in La Lacque as at 2.ooam, the Battalion moved from the Assembly Point to form and advance guard to the 61st Division. Reports duly came in from the bombers that the enemy appeared to have retired from their positions but they could not accurately confirm this. The Battalion now waited for the order to advance.
At 6.20am, the Battalion set off. "Bn. proceeds 'over the top'" wrote the entry in the Battalion War Diary, "to get in touch with enemy, going through the 2/6th R.Waricks. The lads occupied the enemy front line . Le Sart occupied without resistance at 7.30am. D Coy and A Coy on the right established a line approx. K32 - K27 (map references) C Coy and B Coy on left held line approx. K27 - K28. Loxton Farm was occupied by enemy"
Here the enemy chose to fight. B Company tried unsuccessfully to press forward to take it, but it was hopeless without artillery support. 7 Other Ranks were wounded and despite a supporting barrage that lasted for seven minutes, the enemy held firm. "Touch was kept with the emery throughout the day but he did not retire further. No counter attack by enemy. Active patrolling by all Coys and 2 Coys of the 9/N.F. (Northumberland Fusiliers) who had relieved B and C Coys during the night."
The enemy were still holding their sections of the line between 'Loxton House' and 'Flagon Farm' and there was much movement on the road towards 'Loxton Farm', but just after midnight the Battalion was relieved by 2/8th Worcesters.
The first day of the battle was not one of great glory for the Battalion, but they had continued in a long line of tradition in 'being there' on the first day of yet another great offensive. Here, and along the British front line, the Allies, now well recovered from the hammer blow of the German offensive, started that day in their final great push to defeat the German Armies in the field.
This was the first day of what would be later called the "Battle of the Last Hundred Days" - a campaign where more ground would be taken, more prisoners be captured and more Battle Honours be awarded than in any other campaign in the history of the British Army.
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.