Page 205 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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178
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
platoon, "owing to lack of organization by the Company
Commander"
!
] 7
TH
BN.
Another light touch to be found in the records of this period is
the fact that from nth to 17th October the 17th Battalion was
billeted in a girls' school at Arras.
It
may perhaps be merely a
coincidence that it was billeted in a similar establishment at Bethune
in June, 1916.
Let one more insignificant but curious item be recorded before
11 TH
BN .
we turn to more serious events. The War Diary of the IIth Battalion
(Lieutenant-Colonel
L.
G. Bird, D.S.O.) noted on 14th November
that during a relief of the battalion between 9 a.m. and noon near
Le Gheer (so well known to the 2nd Battalion in 1914 and early
1915) the Germans opened rapid fire on a flock of ducks which flew
over at about n a.m.
AN
ECHO OF THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME
16TH
BN.
It
was mentioned in the last chapter that the 16Ut Battalion
(Lieutenant-Colonel C. M. Abercrombie, C.M.G.) helped to earn the
battle honour "Ancre, 1916" by being in support on 18th November
during the last attack which is officially included in the Battle of the
Somme. As a result of that attack a party of 7 officers and 120 other
ranks of IIth Border Regiment and 16th Highland Light Infantry
which had gained a footing in Frankfort Trench, about a mile north–
east of Beaumont Hamel, had been cut off by enemy who still
occupied an intermediate line known as Munich Trench. On the
night of 20th/21st November, a company serjeant-major and a
private of the nth Border Regiment succeeded in making their way
back with the report that the party was still holding out but was
short of food and water and in a critical position. Patrols were
pushed forward on the following night with a view to gaining touch
with the beleaguered troops, but as they could not find a gap in the
wire protecting Munich Trench, which was occupied by the enemy,
they returned to their lines. On 22nd November two more men
escaped from Frankfort Trench and confirmed the previous report.
It
was therefore decided that an organized attempt at rescue should
be made by three companies of the 16th Lancashire Fusiliers and
one company of 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, each of 80 N.C.Os.
and men, the whole under the command of Captain C. W. Merry–
weather, 16th Lancashire Fusiliers. The plan was that Munich
Trench should be seized and the approaches to it blocked by the
bulk of the attacking body while a comparatively small party
dashed on to Frankfort Trench and rescued the British troops
in it . The attack was launched at 3.30 p .m. on 23rd November. A
skilfully placed and intense barrage enabled most of Munich Trench
to be occupied without much difficulty. But unfortunately some
of the attacking waves bunched, with the result that it was not
seized throughout its length; and the Germans, who were holding
it in considerable strength, were able to emerge from their dug-outs
and bomb the flanks of the British groups. Hand-to-hand fighting