Page 217 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

I
<)0
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, I9I4-I918
should dig in on the ridge about two hundred yards beyond the farm.
"z"
Company halted at this point and began to consolidate. But
"W," seeing some Germans retreating, pursued them right across
the main St. Quentin-Le Catelet road, about eight hundred yards
beyond the farm. There they stormed a trench and engaged in
hand-to-hand fighting with the enemy, of whom they killed or
wounded more than a hundred, using the bayonet freely and
bombing dug-outs. Second-Lieutenant W. Dobinson caused many
casualties with his own hand and himself destroyed a German
machine gun. Unfortunately, the company came under machine–
gun
fire from both flanks and suffered some loss. At 5.30 a.m. they
were ordered to withdraw and to consolidate in line with
"z"
Company. The retirement was skilfully carried out by alternate
half-platoons, under cover of a Lewis gun sent out to the right
flank under Lance-Corporal
E.
Altham (who gallantly fulfilled his
task but was unfortunately killed with
all
his team as they in turn
withdrew), and also the guns of
"z"
Company as soon as the troops
had crossed back over the main road. A party of the enemy tried to
cut off "W' ' 's retreat by an attack from the south; the attempt was
frustrated, but the retirement was delayed in consequence of it .
Daylight came quickly before
"w"
had finished its movement and
it received more machine-gun and rifle fire. Duncan supervised the
consolidation of both companies, at times walking along the line
fully exposed and cheering up the men.
At 6.5 a.m.
"x"
Company was ordered forward to support the
advanced position. Capturing two German trench mortars on the
way, it established itself to the north of Les Trois Sauvages farm.
The machine-gun fire to which the new line was subjected in the
early part of the day was eventually silenced by artillery and
machine-guns; but as the position was overlooked from ridges to
the east and south-east, it was deemed best to withdraw "W,"
"X"
and "Z" Companies at dusk, and they accordingly dug them–
selves in east of Gricourt, leaving the farm unoccupied. The day's
booty included
17
prisoners and the two mortars which have been
mentioned. The casualties were 30 men killed, 3 officers and 50
other ranks wounded, and
I
officer and
I6
other ranks missing.
The Military Cross was awarded to Captain G. A. Duncan and
Second-Lieutenant W. Dobinson, and Military Medals to Serjeant
F. Homer, Lance-Corporal
J.
Algie and Private
C.
Le Maitre.
20TH BN.
In the meanwhile, about
2,000
yards to the north of Les Trois
Sauvages, the
20th
Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel
E.
Vaughan)
was attacking some trenches on the Pontruet ridge with the sunken
road leading from that village to Les Trois Sauvages as its final
objective. The assault was launched at 4 a.m., the difference of
half an hour between the attacks of the two battalions being due
to the brigade commander 's desire to distract the enemy's attention
away from Pontruet where, he considered , there was the best
chance of securing a decisive success. "Y" Company was in front
on the right with "X" behind it , while "W" Company supported by