Page 206 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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179
ensued, during which some prisoners who had been taken managed
to escape, though about twenty Gennans (including an officer) were
bayoneted.
In
the meanwhile, one wave, under Lieutenant G. N.
Higginson, had pushed on towards Frankfort Trench. Higginson
and all his N.C.Os. were shot as his party lay in the open waiting
for the barrage to lift beyond their objective. Second-Lieutenant
H. B. Rylands was sent forward to take over the command of this
forlorn hope; but he too fell when he had gone a short distance.
When the barrage lifted there appeared to be only some t en men
left, and they were unable to get forward. Nothing was seen of the
beleaguered party in Frankfort Trench and only a few men of
Higginson's wave succeeded in making their way back to Munich
Trench. Merryweather himself was seen to fall as he stood on the
edge of that trench directing operations. In spite of the efforts of
Lieutenant D. Robertson, ably helped by Second-Lieutenants
W. N. Watts and
C.
S. Jones and by Serjeant J. Holland and Lance–
Corporal G.
R.
Hughes, to hold off the enemy in Munich Trench by
means of blocks, it was by now evident that the attempt had failed.
The survivors withdrew to the British line at about 4.15 p.m.,
losing heavily from machine-gun fire on both flanks as they retired.
Lance-Corporal Hughes carried back with him a wounded officer of
the 2nd Inniskilling Fusiliers. The battalion's casualties in this
operation were 2 officers and 10 other ranks killed, 95 other ranks
wounded, and
I
officer and 56 other ranks missing. Lieutenant D.
Robertson received the Military Cross at a later date, as did the
unit's chaplain, the Rev. W. H. Fawkes, who set a splendid example
of bravery, devotion and untiring work and brought in many
wounded men, including at least three from the wire of Munich
Trench. Military Medals were awarded to Serjeant
J.
Holland and
Lance-Corporal G.
R.
Hughes ; and Serjeant
J.
Timperley was
subsequently mentioned in despatches.
A
WINTER OF ROUTINE AND REORGANIZATION
Although minor operations designed to exploit the territorial
gains of the Battle of the Somrne continued at intervals through the
winter until March, I9I7, the Regiment was directly concerned with
only one of them and with one indirectly. Weather and fatigue
reduced both sides over the greater part of the front to that state of
comparative inactivity, marked by cold, wet and every kind of
discomfort and broken by many bombardments and occasional
raids, which is known as trench warfare.
One such raid caught the I7th Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel
17TH BN .
A.
M. Mills) at a disadvantage on 26th November, 19I6, near
Arras.
The day before, a heavy bombardment by Gennan trench mortars
had so damaged the trenches at the junction of the sectors held by
that battalion and by the unit on its right, which belonged to another
brigade, that several bays of the front line had to be evacuated.
It
was understood that this brigade would
fill
the gap, but Brigadier–
General
J.
W. Sandilands ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Mills to take