Page 202 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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CHAPTER XI
1916-1917
"ARRAS, 1917," " SCARPE, 1917," " ARLEUX," " MESSINES, 1917"
(Maps) , 3, 4 and
9)
1st, 2nd, 1st/5th, 2nd/5th, 3rd/5th, 1st/6th, 2nd/6th, Ist/7th,2nd/7th, 1st/8th,
2nd/8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th Battalions
JUST as the Battle of the Somme is limited chronologically to the
period between 1st July and 18th November, 1916, so there are
geographical boundaries beyond which events are not reckoned as
forming part of that struggle. But it must not be supposed that
complete stagnation pervaded the whole of the rest of the British
front or that many gallant and useful deeds were not performed
elsewhere between those dates. Raids were necessary, partly to
induce the enemy to think that an attack was impending so that he
should not move reserves towards his threatened line in the south,
and partly to find out whether any changes had taken place in the
German garrisons of particular sectors of the line. The first section
of this chapter therefore covers the period of the Battle of the Somme,
though the scene is laid elsewhere.
After its heavy losses in the disastrous attack at Thiepval on
1st July, the 16th Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel C. M. Abercrombie,
1 6TH BN.
C.M.G.) performed only one tour of duty in the line in the Somme
area before it was transferred, with the 15th Battalion, to a quieter
sector south-east of Bethune and south of the
La
Bassee Canal.
While
in
reserve at Cambrin on 30th August, a special patrol
consisting of Lieutenant C.
W.
Smith, Second-Lieutenant C. S.
Marriott and two N.C.Os. was sent out from the 16th Battalion to
examine the enemy's wire in preparation for a proposed raid. When
close to the German line both N .C.Os. were wounded. The two
officers dragged them back about forty yards under fire . Marriott
then stayed to protect them while Smith went back for help. The
N.C.Os. were brought in, but died later. The reconnaissance of the
enemy's wire was therefore less thorough than had been intended,
with the result that, when Smith led a raid on 7th September, the
wire was found to be stronger than was supposed and the gaps cut
in it by the artillery were not complete enough to be used. Some
time was spent in trying to cut it by hand, but this took so long that
Smith decided to withdraw after suffering several casualties. The
attempt was repeated on the night of loth/nth September, this
time with success . The preparations were made by Captain T .
F.
175