Page 178 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME,
1916
149
and just behind "C" Company, while shrapnel burst over it.
And naturally the Germans, as soon as they grasped what had
happened, began shelling the captured position. Metcalfe's party
was therefore not between, but in, two fires. Casualties were fre–
quent, but the men stuck ' to their work and dug themselves in.
During the night a German working party, apparently unaware of
the situation, was seen taping out a new trench on the left of the
position; a Lewis gun soon persuaded them to postpone the work,
and they too went hurriedly back towards Pozieres.
Daylight on 9th July showed Metcalfe that his position gave
him a commanding view of Pozieres and of the quarries between
that village and Contalmaison. He sent back word of the heavy
casualties which our artillery was causing and. tried to attract the
attention of a British contact aeroplane. But it was some hours
before the situation was clearly understood, and "C" Company
continued to suffer casualties. During the morning the battalion
on its right withdrew to the true objective, followed by the Irish
Fusiliers. Metcalfe nevertheless clung to his position. But in the
afternoon small parties of the enemy worked their way forward
from Pozieres by short rushes. Enemy shelling increased; yet
"C" Company tried to beat off the counter-attack with rifle and
Lewis-gun fire. By now there were very few unwounded survivors,
and so Metcalfe, seeing that the Germans were working round both
his flanks, collected all the unwounded men he could find into a shell
hole; they amounted to six in all, including Serjeant G. Chilton.
This party kept up rifle fire on the advancing enemy until their
retreat was nearly cut off. Metcalfe then told the party to make
their way back as best they could to the true objective. Of the
seven, only Metcalfe and Chilton succeeded in reaching the trench,
which was now held by "A" Company. The Germans followed
them up, but were driven back by "A" Company's Lewis gunners,
under Second-Lieutenant
C.
F. Melling, who, although wounded,
got up on the parapet and fired on them as they came along the
trench.
At divisional headquarters the comment on the whole affair
was that" officers in this brigade do not appear capable of reading
their maps."
The battalion was relieved late on the night of IOth/ IIth July
and marched to billets at Bouzincourt, which it reached at 7 a.m.,
moving on in the afternoon to Senlis. I ts casualties had been
2 officers and
10
other ranks killed, 3 officers and II2 other ranks
wounded, and I officer and 43 other ranks missing. Captain J. C. P. E.
Metcalfe and Second-Lieutenant C. F. Melling received the Military
Cross, and Serjeant G. Chilton the Italian Bronze Medal for Military
Valour, for their valuable work on this occasion.
" They also serve who only stand and wait"
Standing in the wings, as it were, the l"'+h, 18th and 20th
17
TH
,I8TH
/
~
AND 20TH
Battalions also helped to earn the battle honour" Albert, 1916"
BNS.