Page 160 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME,
1916
133
by the 16th Battalion and others to get to them and make good the
positions they had reached; at the same time, a thorough bombard–
ment of the village could not be put down for fear of hitting them.
There is some evidence to show that these troops, few in number,
fought their way most gallantly to their objective-the only troops
on the divisional front to do so-that some of them later made their
way to the left and joined units of the 36th Division, and that the
rest were killed or taken prisoner.
In the meanwhile mopping-up detachments were busy in the
German front line. But the enemy had by now emerged from their
deep and untouched dug-outs and reoccupied their trenches. They
quickly overcame the mopping-up parties; and when the supporting
companies advanced, falsely secure in the belief that "A" and "C"
Companies had pushed on farther, they were met with such heavy
fire that they were held up. All later attempts by parties or
individuals to get forward resulted merely in their being killed or
wounded. By 9 a.m. it was evident that any further efforts in
this direction would only cause useless waste of life. As by this time
only the adjutant, the Lewis-gun officer and about thirty men
remained as a coherent body under the Commanding Officer, the
latter set to work to collect such individuals as he could and withdrew
them to more sheltered positions. By the evening some ISO non–
commissioned officers and men had been got together, and the
situation, as then known, was that out of the 24 officers and about
600
men who had gone over the top at 7.30 a.m., 21 officers and
449 other ranks had become casualties, and of these IS officers and
288 men were missing, though a proportion rejoined later.
The battalion was withdrawn from the line that night to a
position close to the River Ancre until 3rd July, when it marched
back to rest at Martinsart.
Like the ISth Battalion, the 16th (Lieutenant-Colonel C. M.
16TH BN.
Abercrombie, C.M.G.) was familiar with the Thiepval area, and for
the same reason. It was in the line near Authuille from 23rd to 26th
June, when it went into dug-outs at Black Horse Bridge at the
southern end of that village. Its role in the attack was to support the
two assaulting battalions of the 96th Infantry Brigade and to form
two strong points on the farther side of Thiepval as a defensive flank
on the right of the 36th Division
if
nece sary. It therefore left its
dug-outs at about
II
p.m. on 30th June and moved to its places of
assembly north of Authuille and three hundred and fifty yards behind
the front line. "A" (Lieutenant A. N. AlIen) and "C" (Captain
R.
B. Knott) Companies were in support of the 16th Northumber–
land Fusiliers; and "B" (Captain T. F. Tweed) and "D" (Lieutenant
F. F. Waugh) Companies were behind the 15th Lancashire Fusiliers.
Waugh was hit on the way and Tweed took command of "D" as well
as his own company. To "C" and "D" Companies was allotted the
task of making the strong points, and they carried engineer material
for the purpose.
The 16th Northumberland Fusiliers attacked at 7.30 a.m. But