The build up to the Battle of Loos
Arthur enlisted in the 9th (Service) Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, which was formed in Bury St. Edmunds in September 1914. Arthur's date of enlistment was 19th September 1914. As he had already been in the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, and was a trained soldier, he was rapidly promoted and was a Sergeant within a month.
Arthur is pictured here with all the other members of the Sergeant's Mess just prior to being sent out to France.
He is standing on the extreme right of the middle row.
The Suffolk Regiment was initially attached to the 71st Brigade, 24th Division. Their first Commanding Officer was Lt.Col. C.E. De L. Solbe but due to ill health he was succeeded after only 3 months by Lt. Col. E.C.M. Lushington. Both were from the Indian Army. Major W.F. Coleman, formerly the Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion in India, was appointed as second in command. The Battalion spent the first three months under canvas in Shoreham, Sussex. Due to constant bad weather they were transferred to billets in Brighton. Whilst they were there the King visited whilst seeing the wounded Indian soldiers in the Pavilion.
On March 10th they returned to Shoreham and were issued with their khaki uniforms, giving up the blue training uniforms they had worn up until then. In April they moved to Reigate and in June they were at Blackdown. Here they were inspected by King George V and Lord Kitchener.
The Battalion adopted a triangular patch of Cambridge Blue, worn below the collar on the back of the jacket, as its field badge.
By mid August they received the order to move to France and on 30th August they went by rail to Folkstone from where they crossed over to France, arriving at Boulogne at about midnight. On the 31st of August they were taken by rail to Montreuil and then they had a dusty march of five miles by road to Alette. Here they were billeted in 'barns' for about three weeks. During the night of September 21st/22nd the Battalion set out for Matringhem, continuing marching the following night they reached Ham-en-Artois by about 3 am. At 7 o'clock they moved to Le Cornet Bourdois. The next night they marched again but as dawn came up they were so tired out that with "only a mile to go" the whole Battalion, without orders, fell out and sat down by the side of the road. However, after a mug of tea they continued to Bethune where they were comfortably quartered in a barracks.
They had had four tough night marches in succession, in drenching rain, and they had covered almost 70 miles. Even so, within a few hours they were ordered to move again - in the presence of Sir John French, the division set off from the market place in high spirits, despite being promised a 48 hour recuperation period. It was in fact 11:30 hours when they actually set off for the front line.
The whole of the 24th Division were to act as support for the 9th (Scottish) Division with the 9th Suffolks and the 11th Essex forming the first line.
There had been much shelling of the town and the surrounding area prior to the advance as can be seen in the photos below. But the Germans were well protected in their trenches and held some very strong positions on slightly higher ground.
At about 20:00 hours the 9th Suffolks wended their way across the Loos battle field until at about midnight they were held up and had to dig in with the German second (support) line behind them. The fighting was so fierce that at 05:00 hours on the 26th September 1914 they were ordered back into the German Support Trenches behind them.
Above some pictures of troops in the trenches at Loos