Page 159 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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13
2
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
known as Leipzig Redoubt.
If
both this and the village of Thiepval
fell into British hands, there would be every chance of further
converging attacks from the two ends being able to seize the whole
ridge. This was the underlying idea of the plan adopted by Major–
General W. H. Rycroft, of the 32nd Division, in which the 15th,
16th and 19th Battalions were serving; and it
will
be convenient
to describe the actions of these units in the chronological order in
which they became involved.
It
is perhaps important to record
here that Thiepval eventually fell to four divisions on 26th
September, 1916.
15TH BN.
The ISth Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel]. H. Lloyd) was well
acquainted with the ground in front of Thiepval as it had taken its
turn in the line close to Authuille ever since it came to France at
the end of 1915. From 14th to 27th June, 1916, it had been resting
and preparing at Warloy Baillon. On the 2J1:h it moved forward to
Bouzincourt and on the evening of 30th June into the line about
three hundred yards west of Thiepval, arriving in its assault positions
at about I a.m. on 1st July. The 96th Infantry Brigade had for
its objective the village of Thiepval and the ThiepvaJ-Grandcourt
road for about five hundred yards north of it. The 16th Northumber–
land Fusiliers were to be on the right and the ISth Lancashire
Fusiliers on the left; the latter had on their left the 9th Royal
Inniskilling Fusiliers of the 36th (Ulster) Division. In support to
the ISth Battalion were" B
11
and" D
11
Companies of the 16th
Battalion. Within the ISth, " A
11
Company (Captain A. Lee Wood)
formed the right half of the attacking line with" B
11
Company
(Captain G. Y. Heald) in support, and " C
11
Company (Lieutenant
H. C. Wright) the left half with "D
11
Company (Captain E. C.
MacLaren) in support; one section of machine guns was allotted
to the battalion. The distance between the attacking line and its
support was to be about eight hundred yards.
Zero was 7.30 a.m., and shortly before it the attacking line was
pushed forward under cover of the final bombardment until it was
within nearly a hundred yards of the enemy trenches. At zero
" A " and "C
11
Companies advanced, each on a frontage of two
platoons. But when the barrage lifted from the German front
line, the attackers came under very heavy machine-gun fire. Five
officers were hit almost at once, and a large proportion of the
battalion became casualties while crossing No Man's Land. Some,
however, succeeded in reaching the German trenches, and at 8.30 a.m.
a report reached Divisional Headquarters that the battalion had
captured the enemy front line. What happened after that has
never been clearly established. But there were grounds for believing
that some parties of the leading companies pushed on and succeeded
in entering the village, for air observers and an artillery observer on
the ground reported later in the morning that British troops could be
seen in, and to the east of, Thiepval. The belief that these troops
were in the village was strongly held throughout the day by all the
commanders concerned, and resulted in repeated efforts being made