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166
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
way, many hours were spent in marching and counter-marching in
accordance with the various orders and counter-orders and in trying
to wed guides to companies and companies to tasks. As the Germans
knew from the experience of two years how useful were the sunken
roads near Lesboeufs for the movement of troops, they added to the
confusion by shelling them heavily.
It
was thus a weary unit which
faced the heavy shelling of lOth and nth October.
On the nth the second-in-command, Major A. ]. W. Blencowe,
assembled the four company commanders, Captain W. D. P. Mansell ,
Captain W. P . Salt, Lieutenants V. F . S. Hawkins, M.C., and
}I.
Robinson, and explained to them the outline plan of the
forthcoming operations and the dispositions of the line as then
held, from which it appeared that, between the battalion and the
2nd Duke of Wellington's Regiment on the right, a stretch of
trench was held by the enemy. The party returned to battalion
headquarters and waited for Major Willis, who arrived at 3 p.m.,
having raced a 5.9-inch shell for the last few feet. He gave them
his orders. The battalion, in conjunction with French and with
other British troops, was to attack next day, 12th October, its
objective being part of a ridge which lay about 1,500 yards in front
of the existing line and half-way between it and Le Transloy. The
attack was to be in eight waves, of which the first four were to take
the objective, push patrols forward and dig in, while the remainder
were to follow them and dig a support trench two hundred yards in
rear of the objective. Four machine guns and four trench mortars
were allotted to the battalion. "A" and
"C
n
Companies had been
pushing saps forward from their line ; these would be joined up
during the night and, with a forward piece of trench already held,
would form the battalion's assembly position, in which it was to be
ready at 5.15 a .m. There would be a bombardment from 6 a.m. till
zero (which was fixed for 2.25 p .m., but not known to company com–
manders until 12 noon), allowing twenty minutes for the Duke
of Wellington's on the right to clear the intervening pocket of the
enemy. Major Willis left
it
to the discretion of the company
commanders whether they left their trenches at zero and lay in
shell holes in front of them till the time came for them to advance
or whether they stayed in their trenches and carried out the whole
attack from there, their decision to be based on the intensity and
position of the British and German barrages and machine-gun fire.
There was some confusion in getting the companies into position,
but by 6 a.m. the battalion had occupied its assembly trenches.
At 12.30 p.m. twelve Germans came over and surrendered; shortly
before 2 p.m. about twenty Germans ran over with their hands up,
apparently very demoralized-ten reached their goal, the rest
were killed; a few minutes later another small party was seen
to leave their trenches and then to run back into them. These
incidents gave the impression that the morale of the enemy about
to be attacked was not high, but they must have had full warning
of the attack, as two German aeroplanes flew low over the battalion's