Page 144 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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TRENCH WARFARE,
I9I5-1916
II7
Torrens waited for them until nearly 4 a.m.; and then, realizing
that he must attack 'before dawn if he was to have any chance of
success, he borrowed twenty men of the 7th Border Regiment on his
left and launched his attack at 4.15 a.m. in three portions-the
York and Lancaster company on the right, the Lancashire Fusiliers
under Bache in the centre and the bomber party on the left. The
right party was soon held up and Torrens led forward such rein–
forcements as he could find, while the remainder worked their way
on, fighting hard. The three parties reached the top of The Bluff and
bombed the enemy in New Year Trench. Some men even succeeded
in getting into the trench; and hand-to-hand fighting followed for
nearly three-quarters of an hour. But the enemy's numbers were
too great and the attackers were compelled to fall back, pursued by
bombs and machine-gun fire, Bache being killed at about this time.
It was by now evident that the enemy had dug himself well in; and,
as the difficulties of the attackers were increased considerably by a
heavy fall of snow-a hurricane raged later in the day and broke many
telephone wires-, it was decided that any further counter-attacks
on the piece-meal scale hitherto attempted would be futile. Torrens
therefore withdrew to a position near New Year Trench and held it
throughout the day, the garrison in this area consisting by this time
of a mixture of men from almost every battalion in the Division.
The trenches in which the troops had to hold on were part of an old
unfinished second-line system and afforded very little cover.
During 15th February various reinforcements of other regiments
arrived to strengthen the line north of the canal; and late in the
day the 6th Dorsetshire came up with orders to attack at 9 p.m.
This, however, was made impossible by an enemy barrage, and the
attack was put off until 3 a.m. on 16th, when "A" Company
(Captain A. H. Thomas) of the IOth Battalion co-operated with rifle
fire from their trenches south of the canal, which were officially
supposed to be untenable if The Bluff was taken, but which the
fifty-odd survivors of this company showed no inclination to
evacuate. Though the Dorsetshire succeeded in entering the
trenches held by the Germans, they were unable to maintain them–
selves there. Indeed it took six battalions, carefully rehearsed and
supported by ample and ingeniously used artillery, to recapture the
lost ground on 2nd March, 1916. The 123rd Grenadier Regiment,
which held the German line on that date, was never forgiven by the
124th Regiment which had taken it, and relations between them
remained cool right through the war!
On the afternoon of 15th February the inter-brigade boundary
was altered so that the loth Battalion ceased to be responsible for
any ground north of the canal. During the night of I6th/17th, "D"
Company on the right was relieved by a company of the gth North–
umberland Fusiliers and in its turn relieved "A" Company just
south of the canal; both companies, though not attacked, had
suffered severely from constant bombardments and were nearly
as exhausted as the remnants of "C" Company. On the night of