Page 163 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
mortars. Under cover of this and of Lewis-gun and machine-gun
fire, "B" Company (Captain G. Hibbert) and a platoon of "C"
managed to cross the space between the wood and the British front
line. Still no information came back; so Hibbert was sent on with a
platoon to find out what had happened to the previous waves and to
push on as far as possible. The British front line was found to be so
crowded with the remnants of all the units which had previously
gone forward that Huxley sent back word that no further men
should be sent forward till the congestion was relieved. The remain–
der of the battalion was therefore sent to the left but here again the
approaches to the original line were so blocked that it was ordered
to stand fast.
In the meanwhile, "A" and "B" Companies had continued
their efforts to advance to the German trenches in waves of between
thirty and forty men. By about 1.30 p.m. the leading wave, under
Huxley, got within ten yards of the enemy trench but, as only
four men were left, it could go no farther. Captain Hibbert led the
next wave and succeeded in entering the German trench, followed
by Lieutenant H. Musker and Second-Lieutenant R.
L.
George
with all the men that could be collected. These three were by now
the only officers left with the companies which had emerged from the
wood, and it was estimated that in the first six hours of this action
the battalion had lost 8 officers and
ISO
men. Hibbert took com–
mand of
all
troops within reach and set about organizing the defence
of his sector of the Leipzig Redoubt. To help him he had only one
Lewis gun as the carriers of the others which were sent forward
were all killed or wounded on the way. The supply of bombs soon
ran out as very few of the bomb carriers were able to get across,
partly because of the weight of their loads and partly because the
buckets in which they c.arried them made them conspicuous targets.
Hibbert therefore drew on the stores of German bombs in the
Redoubt, and used some eight hundred of them. By means of
these bombs but still more of his men's rifle fire he managed
to hold his sector throughout the day against repeated bombing
attacks which came mostly from a large mine crater on his
left flank. At midnight, the whole battalion was relieved and
managed to withdraw with all its wounded, though movement was
very slow owing to considerable shell fire. By 1 a.m. on 2nd July
it had reached its dug-outs at Authuille once more, having lost
II
officers and 270 men out of 20 officers and 577 men.
It
manned
the defences of Authuille throughout 2nd July, during which Hibbert
and Huxley were wounded by the blowing-in of their dug-out .
That night it relieved a battalion in the line, but was relieved again
late on 3rd July, reaching billets at Senlis at 12.30 a.m. on 4th July.
Captain G. Hibbert was awarded the Military Cross for his gallant
work in this operation and the battalion was congratulated by the
Divisional Commander, for the capture of part of the Leipzig
Redoubt proved of great value to later operations.