Page 216 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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flank had got far round the village, whereupon many Germans
retired in a north-easterly direction, leaving sniping posts behind
them to delay any further attempt to advance. Patrols from
"z"
Company under Second-Lieutenants
J.
A.
Wallis and W. M. Holden
and from "X" Company under Second-Lieutenant W.
L.
Caldwell
were then pushed through the village and, after some fighting,
killed or captured the remaining enemy. Holden particularly
distinguished himself; he led his men most gallantly, shot two
Germans with his revolver and succeeded in capturing fifty prisoners.
During this stage of the action, German artillery and enfilade
machine-gun fire had become more and more severe. The former
was directed partly by an aeroplane which flew low over Gricourt
until "Y" Company turned on to it the concentrated fire of their
Lewis guns, whereupon it was seen to "nose-dive" about
2,000
yards
east of Gricourt. The bringing down of an aeroplane by Lewis-gun
fire was an event so rare as to cause a considerable stir in high
quarters. "Y" Company's guns also did useful work in firing on
parties of Germans who were reinforcing their positions at Les
Trois Sauvages, about six hundred yards east of Gricourt.
At 7.45 p.m. the forward troops were ordered to consolidate. But
as Gricourt lay in a hollow, the line to be dug was to run along the
western side of the village, with only posts in and to the east of it .
At 12.45 a.m. that night the battalion was relieved by the 18th
Battalion, having captured during the day well over fifty prisoners,
four grenade throwers and a number of boxes of ammunition, while
its casualties had been 13 men killed and
I
officer and 34 other ranks
wounded. Second-Lieutenants G. MacKereth and W. M. Holden
were awarded the Military Cross and Privates G. Booth,
J.
Walker
and A. W. Chisnall the Military MedaL The Corps Commander
congratulated all concerned on their "phenomenal" success, as
indeed it may be regarded since it was achieved with no preliminary
scheme or orders and with no artillery preparation or support and
under conditions approximating, as in the case of the 15th and 16th
Battalions at Savy Wood, to those of open warfare.
Half a mile east of Gricourt, on a ridge and on a by-road leading
from St. Quentin to Pontruet, lay the farm of Les Trois Sauvages.
It
was to take advantage of the confusion caused to the enemy on
14th April that the 18th Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel
R.
A. Irvine,
18TH BN .
C.M.G.) relieved the 17th Battalion at the change of day, with
orders to seize this ridge. An artillery bombardment was opened on
the trenches near the farm at 4.15 a.m. on 15th April and, under
cover of it, "W" and "Z" Companies of the 18th, under Captain
G. A. Duncan, which had formed up in the road east of Gricourt ,
advanced to the attack. The farm was found to be occupied by
about twenty Germans, all of whom were killed or captured by
" Z" Company, Serjeants Francis and Owen being the commanders
of the first platoons to enter it. Duncan was very energetic.
exposing himself freely and fearlessly as he controlled the advance
which was then continued with the intention that both companies