4 Suffolk Regt
Feby 19 1916
I am indeed grieved to have to convey to you the sad news that your boy was killed on Thursday the 3rd inst and I expect by this time you have had confirmation of this from the War Office. By reason of a change of company commanders at the time of your son being killed, it was omitted to write to you to give you the first information so I am writing to save further delay.
Your son was killed by a shell and his death must have been instantaneous. The same shell wounded Pte Bunn severely and Cpl Driver slightly. We were in support at the moment and moving up to the firing line when your son was killed. In fact the Germans were shelling heavily at the time and we thought they might be intending to attack. Your boy was buried the same night near not far from the spot where he fell in a quiet spot. Sgt W Smith, his platoon Sgt and 2 of his pals buried him last night. Sgt Smith with another pal went to put a wooden cross over the grave with a proper inscription.
Your son was a real good lad, always bright and willing, and we all miss him very much. After being wounded once it does seem bad luck he should have been killed this time. He deserved better fate but one can rest assured he has given his life gallantly and for a righteous cause. I well know what his death must be to you all and I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my very sincere sympathy with the family. Your boy was very popular with the other men and I know they, with Capt Pretty, have the same feelings as myself.
Yours very truly W H M Pattisson Lieut
The letter above was written to Mrs Webb, concerning the death of her son, Stephen, who was killed in action at Loos. Lieutenant Patterson had not long arrived in France. After the death of Lieutenant Colonel Cruddas in January, Captain E.P. Clarke assumed command and then on February 11th, Major A. Gilson Taylor returned from Divisional School and took over command of the Battalion from Clarke.
One of Taylor's first decisions as CO, was a complete reorganisation of the Company and Platoon commanders. He moved around some officers who had been with the Battalion since it arrived and gave command of two platoons to newly arrived subalterns 2/Lieutenants Woods and Pattisson.
Slowly, the Battalion was being made good again. Its performance at Neuve Chapelle was behind them. The wilderness months of 1915 had gone. Colonel Cruddas had made the Battalion a professional fighting unit, seen again in the eyes of their superiors as a unit that could be trusted under fire. Tough times were ahead.
Starting back in March 2014, we have recorded the events of 100 years ago on the centenary of their happening.
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