Page 140 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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TRENCH WARFARE,
I9IS-I916
II3
trench until he reached another communication trench down which
he led them for about sixty yards without meeting the enemy. He
would have carried the pursuit further had he not at this moment
received word that Stephens's party was withdrawing; whereupon
he led his own detachment back with the loss of two men wounded.
The whole operation was covered by a supporting party which
remained outside the German trench under Second-Lieutenant
E. H. Jewell who, seeing that some men of one of the assaulting
parties had lost their way, went forward, led them into the trench
and then returned to his own task.
An
unusual feature of the
enterprise, and one which aroused considerable interest in higher
circles, was the use of two searchlights of IoSth Field Company,
Royal Engineers, directed outwards on the outer flanks of the whole
scene of attack, to cover the advance and withdrawal of the assault–
ing parties by blinding the enemy and misleading him as to the
direction of the advance. Opinions differed as to the value of this
ingenious device. For this raid, the Military Cross was awarded to
Lieutenant H. H. Fowkes and Second-Lieutenant
R.
F. MacKinnon,
and the Distinguished Conduct Medal to Serjeant T. A. O'Hara,
Corporal A. Grindrod and Private G. Singleton. The name of
Second-Lieutenant A. M. Stephens was also forwarded for a reward;
but he was unfortunately shot in the head on the very next night
while going to the help of a wounded man during a patrol undertaken
with a view to a further raid, and died in the field ambulance a few
hours later.
This was the last event of regimental importance in the year I9IS,
during the last fortnight of which General Sir Douglas Haig replaced
Field-Marshal Sir John French as Commander-in-Chief of the
British Expeditionary Force.
On the night of 7th-8th January, I9I6, the evacuation of the
Gallipoli Peninsula was finished.
If
hitherto the Regular and New Army battalions have held the
stage in Flanders, the rise of the curtain on I9I6 displayed the
2nd/sth Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel H. J. Shirley, C.M.G.) in
2ND/ 5TH
action, the first Second Line Territorial Force unit of any regiment
BN .
to go to France, the first to go into action on any front and the only
one to win three Victoria Crosses. As a farewell performance to the
SIst (Highland) Division, which it left on 3rd January, and as a kind
of "provincial appearance" before joining the S5th (West Lancashire)
Division as it did on that day, this battalion carried out a raid early
on Ist January, I9I6, at St. Pierre Divion, on the River Ancre
between Beaumont-Hamel and Thiepval, both of which were
destined to see much heavy fighting by other battalions of the
Regiment during the Battle of the Somme. Three parties of five men
each, under Captain
L.
H . Bloy, Lieutenant W. Duckworth and
Second-Lieutenant H. M. Ainscow, were to enter the enemy's
trenches, inflict as much loss on him as possible and take a prisoner
for the sake of an identification.
If
no way through the wire could
be found, they were to bomb any sentry posts which they could