Page 148 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

intention of destroying the British mine shafts which they had
located. They were repulsed with heavy loss, due partly to the
artillery catching large numbers in their trenches which were packed
with men. Second-Lieutenant
E. Kinna, IIth Battalion, com–
manded the party sent to deal with the intruders and was com–
mended by the Divisional Commander, Major-General B. ]. C.
Doran, for great coolness and determination.
Down in the Somme area on the following day, the 15th Battalion
15TH BK.
(Lieutenant-Colonel ]. H. Lloyd) was able to avenge the losses
inflicted on its sister Salford battalion on
March. Late on 5th
May, 1916, a party of 4 officers and 50 other ranks of the 15th
Battalion, armed with revolvers and clubs and some grenades, left
their reserve dug-outs at Black Horse Bridge, Authuille, and went up
to the trenches held by the 16th Battalion in front of that village.
The ground had been reconnoitred on previous nights by Captain
E. C. MacLaren and Serjeant ]. Pollitt. At 11.30 p.m. the former
led out a party which laid tapes towards the enemy wire to mark the
route to be followed . This ran obliquely across No Man's Land with
the object of deceiving the enemy as to the point from which the
raiders would start and to which they would return. The expectation
was that when his artillery retaliated and tried to catch the raiders
re-entering their own lines, they would put down shells directly
opposite the point of attack and so miss them. At 11.30 p.m. also
the covering party under Serjeant Pollitt went out and was disposed
with two Lewis guns on the left to deal with a possible counter-
attack and with a flank guard on the right. They were followed by a
party under Major
A. Thomas carrying two Bangalore torpedoes.
All these parties pushed forward about one hundred and twenty
yards from the front line and waited for the artillery bombardment
which opened at midnight with a dummy bombardment by 8-inch
howitzers lasting five minutes, followed by a genuine barrage on the
enemy's wire and front line with the more accurate 6-inch howitzers
lasting for twentyminutes and then lifting to the enemy's support lines
for another thirty-five minutes. In
3,331 rounds of various calibres
were fired by the artillery of three divisions during this raid. Under
cover of this fire, the raiding party, in two groups under Captain
R. ].
Smith and Second-Lieutenant
Younger, moved out with
ten yards between them and by 12.20 a.m. had arrived within
sixty yards of where the shells were falling on the German wire.
When the barrage lifted, a Bangalore torpedo was brought up and
put into position.
failed to go off and Major Thomas had the
second one brought up, which he fastened to the first one and set off.
Both exploded and an excellent gap about ten yards long was made
in the outer belt of wire. The failure of the first torpedo had caused
a delay of about five minutes, but now luck favoured the raiders, for
a gap was easily found in the rather inferior second belt. At 12.33 a.m.
the raiders entered the German trench, killing the sentries and
taking five prisoners, who were sent back. There was very little
active opposition apart from a feeble counter-attack which was