Page 150 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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TRENCH WARFARE,
I9I5-I9I6
12
3
At 8.27 p.m. on I5th May, a beautifully still night, the heavy
artillery began shelling enemy batteries in order to drive their
gunners below ground. At 8.30 p.m., three of the five mines were
exploded. A German machine-gun at once opened fire. Ten seconds
la ter the other two mines were sent up. Lieutenant-Colonel Crosbie's
laconic comment in his report was, "That machine
gun
fired no
more." But the enemy artillery took up the tale, to which the
British artillery and trench mortars replied. The assaulting parties
rushed forward; one man, seeing the bodies of Germans coming
down to earth again after the explosion and remembering the recent
wet weather, remarked "Blimey, Bill, it's raining Germans now."
On the left, the near lips of the newly made craters were gained with
little opposition. But on the right, McFarlan's party got too close
to the mine which made
"z"
crater and all except three men were
buried owing to the trench falling in from the shock of the explosion,
he himself being killed. Wilson's party missed its way to "X"
crater and was lost, only Wilson himself and two men getting back.
Kinna, however, very quickly grasped the situation and took
control, gainil;lg
"z"
crater and part of "X" as well as his own, "Y,"
by 8.52 p.m. At about this time, reinforcements were asked for by
signal from
"z"
crater and more bombs from "W"; these were
promptly sent up. By 9.25 p.m. the assaulting parties were firmly
established on the near lips of craters "V" and
"w"
and had gained
contact with the Loyal North Lancashire on the left. Lieutenant
Edwards had done much to make the new position secure. As
J;.-ewis-gun officer, he had gone from crater to crater, ensuring that
the guns were in order and reorganizing their tasks where necessary.
In
one crater, Serjeant A. Lucas had already chosen an excellent
position for his gun when a part of it broke and it could no longer
defend the position. Ordering one of his team to put it right, he
kept the enemy under control by vigorous bombing until he was
killed by a sniper.
Up to now casualties had not been heavy, but the enemy soon
recovered from his first shock and launched determined counter–
attacks on the new line, chiefly with bombs. Jewell, Barrett and
Baker were all killed during this fighting, but their N.C.Os. promptly
took command and carried on with the work of consolidation with
excellent initiative. Ganly helped greatly by establishing a firm
contact with the troops on each flank and showed great coolness
and resourcefulness. The Lewis-gunners also did very good work
and suffered heavily. Consequently the Germans were unable to
penetrate the defence and, in spite of considerable artillery and
machine-gun fire, the consolidating parties were able to put the
craters in a proper state of defence and to establish satisfactory
communications with the rear before dawn. At about 8 a.m. on
I6th May, the remainder of the battalion came up under Captains
Ward and Stanning and relieved the parties holding the craters.
The whole battalion was relieved late on I9th May, after a trying
period during which the enemy continually bombarded the trenches