Page 218 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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19 1
19 17
"Z" was on the left. The whole battalion was organized in four lines,
of which the first two were to go right through to the final objective
and the remainder to clear up the first objective. The frontage was
about five hundred yards. The 17th Royal Scots pushed forward a
Lewis gun to protect the left flank of the advance, but unfortunately
the commander and most of the team were wounded at an early
stage. "Z" Company echeloned several parties and a Lewis gun to
protect this flank. By 4.25 a.m. the attacking troops had reached
their objectives and made good use of the remaining minutes of
darkness to establish themselves firmly and to join hands with the
18th Battalion on their right. Patrols were pushed forward on both
flanks and posts were set on the high ground to the front. The left
patrol came under heavy fire from the direction of Pontruet and
nearly all its men were hit.
Useful work was done by Captain B. C. H. Keenlyside, Captain
H. C. Pemberton, Second-Lieutenants T. W. Hollows, E. J . Gibbons,
E. A. Clegg and R. Irvine, and by Privates E. Jones (who was
awarded the Military Medal) and W. Wright.
was remarked at the
time that a number of men of the 17th, 18th and 20th Battalions were
under fire for the first time on the 14th and 15th April and that
their keenness to close with the enemy was most satisfactory.
The 20th Battalion suffered considerable casualties all through
15th April owing to sniping and machine-gun fire from the
neighbourhood of Pontruet . Two raiding parties were therefore
sent out by it early on 16th, working in conjunction with similar
parties of 23rd Manchester Regiment . One party went to a new
trench which the Germans had dug for about half a mile south-east
of Pontruet, but they found it empty and incomplete ; nor did a
second visit late the same day produce any result, in spite of an
hour's lying in wait. The other party, however, bombed Germans
out of their line between the left of the battalion's position and the
village of Pontruet.
After a few days' rest, the three battalions were again in the
front line. On 24th April the 17th Battalion raided Pontruet under
cover of artillery fire and found that the enemy had evacuated it.
On the 28th the 18th established posts in the village. Between 25th
18TH EN.
April and 5th May, all battalions sent out frequent patrols to keep
touch with the enemy, to make progress where possible and to
report on the state of the bridges over the streams. One such patrol,
from the 20th, went out on 30th April under Second-Lieutenant E.
20TH BN.
Gibbons to reconnoitre a copse about two thousand yards north of
Berthaucourt (a hamlet of Pontruet) which was later called
Somerville Wood.
proved to be a hornet's nest. As soon as the
patrol entered it, they were fired on at close range by strong enemy
parties. Gibbons drew his revolver to fire but was hit, as was his
N.C.O. after firing five rounds. One man rushed at the enemy and
was killed. The other two escaped. Another patrol later brought in
the N.C.O. and the dead man, but could not find the officer, who was,
it transpired, killed. The patrol was avenged on 5th May by 23rd