Page 143 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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II6
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
platoon were imprisoned and afterwards captured by the Germans.
Walker himself and the sentries were killed and consequently the
enemy was able to walk into New Year Trench without opposition
and without anybody .knowing that anything was amiss until
Serjeant Hickenbottom arrived at battalion headquarters shortly
after 6 p.m. with news of the fate of Walker and the platoon and of
the virtual emptiness of New Year Trench, but ignorant of the
German advance. Lieutenant-Colonel Wade at once ordered Winser,
the only officer left with "C" Company, to take the r emaining
platoon of the company and reinforce New Year Trench. Winser
took the platoon along the embankment north of the canal and seems
to have outstripped the bulk of it, to have met the enemy in the
trench, charged them without a moment's hesitation and been
killed. Company Serjeant-Major
R.
Toms, who was accompanying
the platoon, took command of it, established a firing line in a support
trench about fifty yards behind New Year Trench, and went back to
report to the Commanding Officer. Owing to hostile shelling, he did
not arrive until 8.15 p.m., when Lieutenant-Colonel Wade sent
Second-Lieutenant G. H. Bache, the battalion bombing officer, with
the bombers and the two platoons of "C" Company which had been
sent up to
"An
Company, to reinforce the remains of "C" Company
on the north bank of the canaL He ordered up a detachment of the
7th York and Lancaster Regiment (Pioneers), which he took the
responsibility of commandeering in the hope that a prompt counter–
attack might drive the enemy out. He also sent up four guns of the
50th Machine-Gun Company, which had just arrived, and Lieutenant
Higgins of the Trench-Mortar Battery. Finally, he directed his
second-in-command, Major G.
L.
Torrens, to take command of the
operation. Crossing the canal, Torrens first went to the headquarters
of the lOth Sherwood Foresters in order to find out the situation as
they knew it; it appeared that the enemy, in addition to seizing
The Bluff, had gained possession of about six hundred yards of the
51st Brigade's front line. He then went forward to reconnoitre.
After going about two hundred yards he met Bache, who had with
him about thirty men of various units, including his own bombers.
Together they watched the Germans busily at work strengthening
their newly-won position, while the neighbourhood of The Bluff was
being heavily treated by artillery, trench mortars and machine
guns. At 1.30 a.m. Torrens ordered up the York and Lancaster
company and organized some sort of firing line right across the
artificial ridge and about fifty yards from the enemy. But, deeming
that his eighty-odd men were quite insufficient for his task, he went
back to battalion headquarters to report the situation to Lieutenant–
Colonel Wade. The latter was ordered by 5znd Brigade to launch a
counter-attack at 3.30 a.m. with artillery support and the aid of the
bombers of the 6th Dorsetshire Regiment and two companies of a
Yorkshire battalion, both of 50th Brigade. The bombers had already
arrived andTorrens took them and fifteen N.C.Os. and men of the lOth
Battalion across the canaL The Yorkshire companies were delayed.