"The second barrage started at the scheduled time and place - 12.30pm near Glencourse Wood. Thanks to the failure of the 30th Division, we were not anywhere near our proper position and the barrage was therefore of no use to us. Nethertheless, the Batt. carried on from where they were and did what they could"
It was evident that the great advance had been halted and that Pilken Ridge was but a dream to achieve. "The task was made more difficult by the lack of artillery support" wrote the Battalion's own history "which had been arranged to accompany further operation, and which, therefore, was incapable of dealing with the new situation which had suddenly arisen".
Low on artillery ammunition, pandemonium now began to reign. Some units stayed put, valiantly holding their hard won ground. Some were pushed back, then just the Battalion were thinking of retiring, the heavens opened and a deluge of rain poured down upon the Battalion.
For almost two hours, it fell, bringing the fighting to a close. Only as darkness came, did any form of movement become possible. As the forward elements retreated back to the edge of the Menin Road, and consolidated, them men huddled into whatever shelter the could find. "We went down the road towards Ypres for about 250 yards" wrote Fuller in his diary "stumbling over dead bodies, barbed wire and "Pave" setts etc. falling into shell holes every few steps. Our padre was with us and he said to one man referring to the shelling, “warm isn’t it?” The man replied, not noticing to whom he was speaking to in the darkness and confusion, “Huh, It’s ---- hot, I think!”
Fuller ended his day in the battered remains of Ridge Trench" where in the drizzle of the night, he and two comrades covered over a shell hole with three stretchers they had found abandoned and tried to get some sleep. Managing to get some fresh water from a dump nearby, it was the first drink they had had all day. "One signaller" wrote Fuller "when filling his water bottle, discovered there were two bullet holes in it. He had during the day, been cursing the "---who had pinched his water" No doubt he got a bullet through the bottle on our way up through Sanctuary Wood, and did not notice the water leaking away".
The Battalion, had advanced nearly a mile in the 18 hours of fighting it had endured. and made a hard but unavailing fight to get still further, now dug themselves in. The battle of Pilckem Ridge as it came to be known brought to an end the first day of the third battle of Ypres; a battle that was to continue for some months to come.
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.