Miles from the Western Front, the 1st Battalion were still fighting in the hot, dry, dusty lands of Macedonia.
On the 3rd October 1916, a large attack was planned to advance the British line along the Struma Valley. The French and their counterparts, the Serbs, were mounting a joint attack against the Bulgars around the village of Monastir, but were held up by stubborn resistance.
In an attempt to make the situation more fluid, a second attack was to be put in further downtime Struma valley by three British Divisions with the aim of holding the Rupel Pass; through which the enemy could pour reinforcements to assist in pushing back the Franco-Serbian advance.
The 27th Division began their attack on 3rd October at first light on the left flank by taking the villages of Karajakoi Zir and Karajakoi Bara, and then pressed onto the village of Yenkoi. 28th Division of which 1st Suffolk were part, pushed forward on the right along the Salonika-Seres road, advancing over half a mile unmolested to link up with the troops of 30th Brigade at Yenkoi.
The attack was in part assisted by armoured cars which made the infantry's job much easier with a mobile force of machine-guns. The attack continued, making the most of the opportunity to advance. At around 5.30am, A Company, under the command of Captain Owen, moved off quickly with the armoured cars. B Company under the command of Capatin Stubbings, moved up as close as possible behind. By 8.00am, they had reached a point along the road about a mile from where they had originally begun their advance. C Company under Lieutenant Clemson, and D Company under Captain Eley, were working together and consolidating the village of Mazirko on the left. All was going well and the losses, were at that point, slight, and were mainly as a result of artillery fire. As the Suffolks dug-in, their counterparts in the Brigade, started wiring out their new positions and making good their newly won positions.
In the afternoon, the enemy launched a determined counter-attack against the village which threatened to drive a wedge between the wiring parties on the flanks and the Suffolks in the village itself. The counter-attack was repulsed, but at the cost of many casualties. After a ferocious artillery bombardment on the village around 4.00pm, a planned partial withdrawal was necessary. In the darkness the Suffolks fell back some 200 yards, and held a defensive line parallel to the road. The Bulgars, came on but were met with a hail of fire from the guns of C Company.
Holding them temporarily, the Company Commander, Lieutenant Edward Clemson, ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge. Their gallant charge inflicted many more casualties on the enemy who retreated into the darkness at the cost of only a few men of the Company. The enemy now withdrew some four miles towards his edge of the valley but, in the darkness, shattered and unable to get reserves up, the Suffolks could not exploit this advantage. They instead returned to the village of Mazirko to dig-in. The day was on the whole a success and succeeded in moving the line forward somewhat from the stagnant position it had been in for many weeks previously. The Regimental History wrote in 1927 that "Unfortunately, we were not strong enough to follow up our success." However the day undeniably belonged for once, to the men of 1st Suffolk.
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.