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11
THE
LA~CASHlRE
FUSILIER, 1914-1918
17th/18th the whole battalion was relieved and went back to
Reninghelst for a rest, during which it found numerous carrying and
working parties
in
connexion with the preparations for the recapture
of The Bluff. For this operation Major G.
L.
Torrens was later
awarded the Distinguished Service Order; he, Captain A. H.
Thomas and Captain B. C. Winser were mentioned in despatches;
and Military Medals were awarded to Serjeant H. Nolan, Serjeant
S. Brown , Serjeant ]. Routledge and Private ]. Pollard.
A PERIOD OF ROUTINE AND RAIDS
2ND BN.
The day after the loth Battalion had left The Bluff and doubtless
as part of the diversions from Verdun already mentioned, the
Germans raided the 2nd Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel G. H. B.
Freeth), which had left the Ypres Salient at the end of July, 1915,
and from then till the end of the year had been in and out of the line
near Auchonvillers, close to the River Ancre, except for a few weeks
behind the line with the 36th Division . At the beginning of
February, 1916, it had returned to the Ancre and took its turn in the
line at Serre. Just before it went back to the line it was visited by
the Colonel of the Regiment, Major-General
C.
J.
Blomfield, C.B.,
D.S.O. The trenches in front of Serre were in such a wretched state,
aggravated by German artillery and "minnies" (short for minen–
werfer shells, a noxious kind of trench-mortar bomb), that, instead
of a continuous front line, the battalion held thirteen small posts.
Some of these were linked up, others were not, and one or two were
completely isolated by day. All attempts to make communication
trenches were frustrated by the wet or by the enemy's missiles, both
of which broke in the sides of anything dug. For some time up to
18th February, German "frightfulness" had been increasing and
casualties were abnormally heavy for a period of so-called quiet.
On that day enemy fire slackened somewhat, but, as No. 6 post was
given a good deal of attention it was decided to hold it by night only
and it was accordingly evacuated in the daytime. The next day
shelling was more vigorous than ever and casualties mounted up.
Shortly before 6 p.m. on the 19th the acting company serjeant-major
of "D" Company, who was on duty in the line, reported that he saw
about a hundred of the enemy in front of their trenches cutting
their wire . He promptly put a
Lewis
gun in position. The artillery
very soon opened fire, whereupon an intensive bombardment was
put down on the British front line. After about an hour it lifted to
the support and communication trenches and the Germans attacked
the posts held by "D" Company. They met with no success at Nos.
3 and 7; but as No. 6 had not yet been reoccupied, they were able
to enter it and attack Nos. 4 and 5 posts from the rear. These two
posts were also being attacked from the front and they were
eventually overwhelmed, the majority of the garrison being killed
and Second-Lieutenant H. S. Carter and nine other ranks (mostly
wounded) taken prisoners. In the meanwhile, preparations for a
counter-attack were being made. Company erjeant-Major C.