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War diary for 9th suffolks, sept 1916 please anybody?


garfyboy

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Hi all, looking for the above diary, to be precise the 16th sept 1916

Researching one JAMES DORKING -3/9850

Thank you

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Hi mash,

Not much going on on the 16th September (Simply "Battalion in trenches" written in the diary for this date). On the 13th and 15th September, however, the battalion was involved in attacks on and around The Quadrilateral in which numerous officers and Other Ranks were killed, wounded or reported missing.

All the best

Steve

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According to the man's MIC and CWGC his name is James Docking (typo somewhere?), and he was killed in action sometime between 13th and 16th September (CWGC states 16th); so it would seem likely he was killed during the operations on either the 13th or 15th September.

cheers

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Hi steve, thanks for that, my mistake with dorking......

Cwgc has just over 100 suffolks died on the 16th!! Perhaps many Dow from the last few days or a case of the mod making the previous days figures not look as bad as they were!?

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No worries mash,

Not necessarily died of wounds - it may simply come down to when the first roll call was made after those actions (I strongly suspect that's the case here given what's written on the MIC). A good example of this is the first 1/5th Suffolk attack on the Anafarta Plain at Suvla in Gallipoli on the 12th August 1915 - almost all of the 70-odd casualties of this action who are recorded on the Helles Memorial have a date of death of 21st August 1915, which, from the war diary, is when the first roll was taken after that particular action.

I see James has a known grave - I wonder if originally he was one of the "missing" during the operations on the 13th / 15th (his body being recovered and identified at a later date), hence the range of dates for his possible death on his MIC?

As a matter of interest, out of the 100+ Suffolk casualties recorded by the CWGC for the 16th, are any of these officers? The battalion war diary gives the names of the officer casualties for both the 13th and 15th September (no names given for ORs unfortunately).

All the best

Steve

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I can transcribe the diary entries for you if you wish (they are available for download from the NA website), but for a broader synopsis, the following from the regimental history (which is primarily based upon the diary entries) may be of use:

"On September 13 the battalion took part in an attack by the 6th Division (Major-General C. Ross) on the Quadrilateral, the 71st Brigade being on the left and the 16th on the right. the 9th Battalion attacked with three companies in the front line and one in support, zero being at 6.20 a.m. The battalion got through the German outpost line quite easily, but on gaining the open ground, which stretched for about four hundred yards to the enemy's wire, came under a terrific machine-gun fire from the formidable strong point known as the Quadrilateral. Across this bare expanse the men struggled bravely forward, Lieut. MacDonald with others getting close enough to throw a bomb into the German stronghold before being wounded. No further progress could, however, be made. At 7.30 a.m. another attack, in which "A" Company participated, was launched; and in the evening a third. Still no entrance could be effected. The battalion therefore, in touch with units on both flanks, dug itself in on a line about half a mile in front of the jumping-off trenches of the morning....

....The casualties were as follows - Killed: Captain S. H. Byrne; 2nd Lieut. G. D. Gardiner; and 15 other ranks. Wounded: Captains V. W. Barrett and N. R. Rawson (R.A.M.C.); and 2nd Lieuts. C. Wayman, A. G. Douglas, G. W. Collyer, D. K. MacDonald, H. E. Falkner, A. Fudge, F. Goatcher, and H. Almack; and 185 other ranks."

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This for the 15th:

"On September 15 the offensive was resumed, eleven British divisions forming the strike force, with the French co-operating to the southward. The 6th Division, to which the 9th Battalion belonged, was in the centre of the XIVth Corps (Earl of Cavan), the Guards' Division being on its left , and the 56th Division (the extreme right of the British line) on its right. After a bombardment lasting three days the assaulting lines, aided for the first time by tanks, moved forward as the sun rose up behind the German trenches. Thus open the battle of Flers-Courcelette.

The final objective assigned to the 71st Brigade was the occupation of the ridge between Morval and Les Boeufs. But the task of the 6th Division on that day was an unenviable one, and the goal beyond their reach; for immediately in front of them lay the Quadrilateral, still intact, bristling with machine-guns, and absolutely barring the way.

Zero hour was again 6.20 a.m. The 9th Battalion, supporting the 9th Norfolk Regiment, were not, however, required to advance till an hour and a half later, by which time the barrage had become very heavy. The trying experiences of the 13th were repeated, and on leaving the trenches the troops came under a withering machine-gun fire from the Quadrilateral, against which it was impossible to make any headway whatever. At 8.30 a.m. Lieut.-Colonel Mack, who had moved his headquarters into the front line trenches at zero hour, was killed by machine-gun fire while watching his battalion. All the senior officers having been killed or wounded, the command then devolved upon Lieut. and Adjutant C. Allerton.

The battalion, unable to move forward, but still maintaining touch with the units on its flanks, gradually dug itself in, and although under heavy shellfire, held this position until relieved just after midnight. During the evening Major M. F. Heigham arrived and assumed command of the battalion.

The casualties were as follows - Killed: Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Mack; Lieuts. J. T. C. Fallowes and L. A. Whillier; 2nd Lieut. F. Wilson, and 35 other ranks. Wounded: Captains L. Ensor and S. W. Church; Lieut. J. N. Harmer; 2nd Lieuts. W. H. Hoile, C. G. Gardner, G. Hopkins, R. T. Scott, and 99 other ranks. Missing: 2nd Lieuts. S. J. Price and R. G. P. Smith, and 93 other ranks. Both the missing officers and many of the other ranks were afterwards reported killed. Owing to the death of Lieut.-Colonel Mack, which was widely deplored, no recommendations in connection with February 13 [this is a typo and should read "September 13"] were submitted as far as the 9th Battalion was concerned. Captain Ensor's wounds proving sever, this heroic officer was eventually invalided out of the army. In the spring of 1917 he was awarded the M.C."

The battalion moved into support trenches on the 17th September. The Quadrilateral was captured by 6th Division the next day.

Hope this is of some use to you.

All the best

Steve

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A last thought - you might like to try contacting the CWGC to see if they still have the original burial returns for Guillemont Road Cemetery. Given that the cemetery was greatly enlarged after the Armistice, it could well be that James and his chums, who now rest here, were originally buried elsewhere.

cheers

Steve

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Steve, you are indeed a star, very much appreciated, i am going to look much further into this but i am very short on time at the minute so will post again when i know more,

people like yourself is what the GWF is all about, thank you once again

Andy

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