Page 192 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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Medal and Serjeant J. Crook the Military Medal for their work on
this occasion. The signallers, too, gained recognition in the award
of the Distinguished Conduct Medal to Lance-Corporal A. Fletcher,
who, having had his lamp smashed by a shell, searched the captured
trench till he found a German electric torch, which he used to keep
up communication with the original front line throughout the
operation. Later he rescued a wounded man.
2nd Battalion
Farther to the east, steady pressure had forced the Germans
slowly back and a salient had been formed which threatened their
last completed line of resistance. The British losses had, however ,
been heavy, the troops were exhausted, and rain had begun to make
the shell-ploughed land impossible for further operations. Near the
point of the salient, between Lesboeufs and Le Transloy, there was
a dent in the British line; and before winter set in it was desired to
straighten out the position and to obtain possession of the ridges
near Le Transloy, which would give the British observation over the
enemy positions. One of the Regular Battalions, the 2nd, under
2N D
the command of Major
R. R.
Willis, V.C., was given a role in this
scene of the closing act of the drama.
After its disastrous experiences on 1st July, it had rested for three
weeks in the back area and then gone north by rail for training near
Poperinghe. On 25th July it had suffered a great loss in the
departure of Lieutenant-Colonel G.
B. Freeth, C.M.G., D.S.O.,
on his well-deserved promotion to command the I67th (London)
Infantry Brigade in the 56th (1st London) Division. From 4th
August to 17th September it carned out routine tours of duty in the
line near Ypres, going thence by train to the rear of the Somme
area once more.
On 8th October it marched from Corbie to Citadel Camp, Fricourt ,
mainly by tracks across country which were none too good by now.
On 9th October, by still worse and more exhausting tracks, it moved
to Trones Wood. That night it relieved the Queen's Westminster
Rifles in the brigade commanded by Brigadier-General Freeth, who
met and chatted with some of the officers. The trenches taken over
lay half-way between Gueudecourt and Lesboeufs; but as they
represented the limit of the recent attacks, they were naturally as
yet incomplete and the exact position of friend and foe was uncertain.
A difficult relief was made still more complicated and exhausting
by brigade headquarters specifying which companies of the 2nd
Battalion were to hold the various sectors; as this allotment differed
from that laid down by Major Willis, who had assumed that such a
domestic matter would have been left to his discretion in the usual