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180
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, 1914-1918
special precautions; and in consequence "X" Company, from the
left of the battalion line, relieved
"W"
Company on the right. The
trenches again suffered severely from enemy shelling and several
junior commanders and sentries were so badly shaken by it as to be
unfit for duty. A patrol sent out between 10 p.m. and midnight
found all quiet and an officer who visited the forward posts between
1 and 1.30 a.m. reported that
all
was well. In the meanwhile, on the
right of the battalion sector,
all
posts had been temporarily with–
drawn from the front line because of an intended discharge of gas
which, having been originally ordered for II .45 p.m. and cancelled
at 11.35 p.m., was finally ordered at 12.35 a.m. to take place at
2.35 a.m. and again at 4.5 a.m. The officer on duty in this sector,
having given orders for a patrol to go out at 2 a.m., went back to
his company headquarters, where he found that the officer who was
to take the next watch was uncertain of his way. He offered to
guide him and both set off towards the front line. Owing to the
blocks which had been established in the damaged trenches they had
to make a considerable detour. As they did so, they were caught at
about 2.20 a.m. by a heavy barrage put down by the German trench
mortars and lost their bearings, with the result that it was an hour
before they found their way back to their headquarters. During the
barrage, which lasted until 3 a.m., the enemy raided the right
company's lines. What actually happened is not clear, but it appears
that the cumulative effect of the various bombardments and
movements of the previous twenty-four hours had been such as to
deprive the posts nearest to the attack of all power of resistance.
The first news of the raid reached Serjeant Rhodes, who was
commanding the reserve platoon
in
the support line, at 2.30 a.m.
As he had just returned from a block which was reported to have
been attacked, he found the report difficult to believe, but promptly
turned out his platoon, gave out bombs and, leading the way with
four men, went up to the front line. When he got there, the enemy
had left. Parties from other companies were also converging on the
threatened spot and the situation was soon restored, though not
before 2 men had been killed, 6 wounded and 25 taken prisoner.
11TH BN.
A few days later a patrol of IIth Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel
L.
G. Bird, D.S.O.) was saved from disaster at Le Gheer, near
Ploegsteert, by its coolness. Led by Second-Lieutenants F. Bowmer
and T. Rufus, a party of twenty-five N.C.Os. and men went out at
10.20 p.m. on 3rd December with the object of catching any enemy
patrols which might be out.
It
had not been out long before it was
discovered by the Germans, who opened heavy rifle and machine–
gun fire on it from their trenches. Private Rose was hit when close
to the enemy wire, but Private
R.
Leach carried him back to the
trench under heavy fire, going out a second time to bring in another
wounded man, while the rest of the patrol withdrew without further
casualties, thanks to its steadiness. Leach was awarded the Military
Medal for his gallantry.
As the war progressed and imposed an ever-increasing strain on