On 26th September 1918, 2nd Suffolk were positioned in a sunken lane on the west bank of the Canal du Nord. At 3.45am the following morning (27th) ‘Y’ Company moved off to cross the canal. “The bed of the canal was dry” noted the Regimental History “with steep bricked sides, which could only be negotiated with the help of ladders, and during the night, it was decided that this obstacle should be crossed before zero hour”.
Cannon William Lummis, then Lieutenant Lummis, was commanding 'X' Company. He recalled the preparations "The orders were that the Battalion was to be in position on the west side of the canal and cross at Zero hour. All the Company Commanders were strongly of the opinion that this was a mistake and liable to lead to disaster. Immediately the enemy realised it there would be a barrage of shells and m.g. bullets into the canal and near it, making it difficult and perhaps impossible to cross to the other side. We advocate that we should cross before Zero and line up on the opposite bank where there would be cover as well as giving a good starting point."
Agreeing to this, the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Carpenter, ordered the first two Companies crossed into the canal. Unfortunately, just as Lummis was moving forward with his, the third Company, Zero hour came and down came with it the Allied artillery barrage. Within a minute came the counter barrage from the enemy.
“I got over with mu H.Q., but on looking back saw to my dismay that none of the rest of my Company had followed. In spite of the shells dropping into the canal and machine-gun fire C.S.M. Wiggett went back and brought the four platoons over, together with my only subaltern – 2nd Lieutenant Hunt, of the Hunts Cyclists – who was in the rear of the company. My men were mostly transfers from the South Staffords with 6 months service. Very good fellows, but it was their first taste of being in action. Also Hunt had only recently joined from England and had seen no service.”
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.