VILLAGE VOICES

the website for Hollesley,
Boyton, Capel St Andrew
and Shingle Street


 

Local Heroes of World War One by Val Dudley


The Suffolk Regiment in World War One           
The Suffolk Regiment was formed in 1695 and fought with distinction in the Napoleonic and Boer War - which was still a recent 
memory in 1914.

         
Before the start of World War One it comprised two regular Battalions (the 'Line Battalions'), plus the '3rd Special Reserve Battalion' 
(men who had been regular soldiers and received pay to make themselves available in an emergency).  In addition, the Territorial 
Force comprised the 4th, 5th, and 6th (Cyclist) Battalions.  These were required to train for 12 full days a year and usually drilled 
once a week.  The West Suffolk Yeomanry was converted into the 15th Battalion in 1917.
When War was declared the 4th Battalion's annual camp was taking place at Yarmouth, and the men were asked to volunteer for 
service overseas there and then.  Almost all of them did so.  It mobilised in November, reaching France on 13th, and saw action in 
some of the costliest battles on the Western Front.  Many local men who had been 'Saturday Night Soldiers' served in this Battalion, 
and went on to fight in battles such as Neuve Chapelle (1914), Noeux-les-Mines (1915), the Somme (1916), Polygon Wood, near 
Ypres (1917) and the final attack and counter-attacks of 1918.
The Suffolks served with distinction in France, Flanders, Gallipoli, Egypt, Macedonia, Palestine and on Home Defence. By the end 
of the War a total of seventeen new batallions had been formed, of which ten served overseas, and nearly 7,000 men had given 
their lives.
Suffolk Regiment Victoria Cross Holders

A number of men have won the Victoria Cross while serving with the Suffolk Regiment, but only two of them were Suffolk Regiment 
soldiers:
No 3/10133 Sgt Arthur Frederick Saunders, 9th (Service) Battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Loos on 26 September 
1915.  'For most conspicuous bravery. When his officer had been wounded in the attack he took charge of two machine guns and a few men 
and, although severely wounded in the thigh, closely followed the last four charges of another battalion and rendered every possible support. 
Later when the remains of the battalion which he had been supporting had been forced to retire, he stuck to one of his guns, continued to 
give clear orders, and by his continuous firing did his best to cover the retirement'. 


No 15092 Cpl Sidney James Day, 11th (Service) Battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery, on 26 August 
1917.  'Cpl Day successfully commanded a bombing section detailed to clear enemy trenches, killing two and taking four prisoners. Where 
the trench was levelled, he went on alone to contact flanking troops. On his return, a stick-bomb fell into the trench where there were five 
wounded.  He seized the bomb and threw it out, where it exploded harmlessly, saving the lives of the wounded. He completed the clearing of 
the trench and remained in an advanced position for sixty-four hours under constant fire. His conduct throughout was an inspiration to all'.