On Sunday 9th January 1916, the 11th (Cambs Suffolk) Battalion set foot in France as the penultimate Service Battalion of The Suffolk Regiment to take the fight to the Kaiser.
Two days before at Sutton Veny, the Battalion packed up its kit and prepared to move overseas as part of the 34th Infantry Division. One young officer, 2/Lieutenant Isaac Alexander Mack, began a log of letters that he would send home continually send home to his mother. His entry that day, described the frantic preparations to get ready to move:
“We frantically packed valises and vainly attempted to reduce them to something near the regulation 35lbs. At first one put in a wardrobe fit for Darius going to conquer Greece, which, when put on the scale, gaily passed its maximum of 55 pounds.
Then out came slacks, shoes, scarves, all sorts of things. The weighing was then repeated and further reductions embarked upon, the final result being about 45 lbs. However, we packed them up tight and they all passed all right. In the afternoon we bought all the things we thought we had forgotten. As everything was packed up a group of half-a-dozen of us assembled round the anti-room fire to attempt to obtain a little sleep. I had a chair and a great coat to go over me. The others slept on the floor with table clothes and such like things. We kept a huge fire burning all night, and, unfortunately, instead of going to sleep one could not help looking into its red depths and seeing the pictures of men and horses you always see in fires. Personally, I did not sleep at all, only rested and dozed.
At 3-30 we got up, 4-0 a hasty breakfast, 4-45 I began to go to the lines to fall in, 4-46 I came back for my glasses, 4-48 I return for my identity disc, 4-50 I return again for my day's rations, 5-0 I fall in a quarter of an hour late.
At 5-15 we march off in the dark saying good-bye to those that remain behind, and realising that at last our many months of training are over, and we are soldiers at last, proud of the fact and beginning to be proud of ourselves as we march down to the station. I was very much struck by the great send-off given us by the women of the cottages we passed who, despite the fact that they had seen thousands march out, all turned out at that early hour, and from their doorsteps wished us a very sincere and affecting God speed"
By 7.ooam on the 7th, the Battalion had reached the station, and within two hours, they were on their way to Folkestone. Battalion HQ, 'A' and 'C' Company's crossed to Boulogne that day, 'B' and 'C' Company's crossed the following day, owing to their locomotive having a fault and their narrowly missing the departing troopship. The following day, all four company's were together again at Renescure.
Another Battalion of The Suffolk Regiment was off to war.
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.