Page 141 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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II4
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, I9I4-I9I8
locate by sight or sound. Two covering parties, of ten and eleven
men under Second-Lieutenant M. P. Evans and Second-Lieutenant
E.
H. Fryer, were to reconnoitre the Thiepval-Hamel road in order
to make sure that the way was clear for the bombing parties and then
to protect the flanks. These scouting parties went out at 2.30 a.m. and
by 4.30 a.m. had finished their reconnaissance and reported back by
telephone that all was clear. The bombers then went forward .
Ainscow's party, on the left, reached the German wire at 4.50 a.m.
and then met and attacked a patrol which was coming out. Bloy
threw a bomb and several of the enemy were hit. All three parties
then found that the wire was too thick to get through and so
set to work to bomb sentry posts, which were spotted with the help
of the enemy's own flares. Sounds of distress showed that the aim of
the bomb throwers had been accurate. The parties then withdrew
under cover of the flanking detachments, the only casualty being a
slight wound to Ainscow's hand. Serjeant W. Cadden was awarded
the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his work on this occasion.
14TH BK.
On I4th January, 19I6, the 19th Battalion took over a section
of trenches at Thiepval, close to the scene of this raid, in which (the
War Diary notes) a cow was handed over as trench stores! On IJ1:h
January the battalion received a visit in the line from Mr. (later Sir)
Montague Barlow, M.P., who thereby showed that his interest in the
Salford Brigade, which he had done so much to recruit, followed it
wherever it might be.
THE ACTION AT THE BLUFF
10TH BN.
Across the south-eastern face of Ypres, a ridge runs from north-
east to south-west, of an average height of about one hundred
and sixty feet above sea-level, the latter being the level of the greater
part of Flanders. The northern end of this ridge lies near Passchen–
daele, the south-western at the prominent features of Wytschaete,
Messines and the Kemmel group of hills. Where it comes closest
to the town of Ypres, that is about two and a half miles south-east
of it, it is cut at Hill 60 by the Ypres-Comines railway and, three–
quarters of a mile south-west of that famous spot, by the Ypres–
Comines canal, which at this point was about forty yards wide, full
of water and crossed by footbridges at very rare intervals. The
spoil from the cutting by which the canal makes its way through the
ridge had been thrown up on each bank into terraces. On the north
bank these terraces ended suddenly, just inside the line held by the
British at the beginning of I916, in an irregularly shaped and
artificial eminence standing about thirty feet above the level of the
natural ground. This feature was known as "The Bluff" and gave the
British some of the best observation to be had in the whole of the
Ypres Salient.
It
was therefore highly unpopular with the Germans,
who had tried to destroy its advantages by exploding mines under
its eastern face, but had only succeeded in thereby raising its height
and so improving the British observation. And when orders were
issued by the enemy Higher Command that efforts were to be made