Page 177 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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14 8
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
Regiment and the 13th Cheshire Regiment delivered an attack
which was largely successful and gained possession of some trenches
about three hundred yards nearer to Ovillers. "A" Company
(Captain F.
C.
R. Dunn) and half of "C" Company (Captain
]. C. P. E. l\1etcalfe) were sent forward with other troops to help in
the work of consolidation. There was considerable confusion and, as
only two companies were left in brigade reserve, it was decided to
make no further attempt to reach the final objective. The enemy
did not counter-attack, but his machine guns and snipers in the
ruins of Ovillers made things uncomfortable, as did the 5.9-inch
shells of his artillery.
It
rained during most of the day and the
state of the trenches became very bad, so that the work of con–
solidation was heavy and arduous. Owing to the congested state
of the trenches and the unnecessary number of casualties which
resulted from it,
"A"
Company was withdrawn from the line
during the afternoon. But the battalion intelligence section, under
Second-Lieutenant A. C. Altham, found a number of German maps,
letters and other documents in dug-outs of the captured trenches
which yielded much useful information. In the evening a strong
reconnaissance party was sent out under l\1etcalfe to investigate
the situation on the left of the new position near the La Boisselle–
Ovillers road, where a gap was believed to exist.
Very early on 8th ] uly the brigade on the left made good progress
by means of bombing attacks. In the afternoon the battalion
received orders to attack at dusk a line of trenches running south–
east from the La Boisselle-Pozieres road and situated about five
hundred yards north-east of the front line then held. "C" Com–
pany (Metcalfe) and one company of the 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers
assembled in the "jumping-off" trench with orders to advance
quietly towards the objective and seize it
if
the opposition was not
severe; if the position was found to be strongly held, they were to
hold their ground and await reinforcements. At about 7.30 p.m.
they went forward in two waves without any artillery barrage.
They were subjected to machine-gun fire at long range from the
direction of Ovillers, but arrived without loss at their objective,
where fourteen prisoners were taken. Not realizing that they had
in
fact reached their goal, they pushed on another six hundred yards
to a partially dug trench which lay almost behind Contalmaison
and Ovillers. There they found a few Germans, who disappeared
hurriedly towards Pozieres, which was now only a thousand yards
away. While the Irish Fusiliers cleared the left flank by bombing
and by forming a block, "C" Company set to work to make some
cover for itself as its new trench provided little. Carrying parties
with wire and tools from "B" and "D" Companies, under Captain
R.
Ganly, M.C., and Second-Lieutenant A. MacDougal, came up
from the brigade reserve during the night and helped in the work.
The mistake about the objective was not discovered till next day.
In the meanwhile the artillery put down a protective barrage in
front of the true objective, with the result that shells fell amongst