Page 219 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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Manchester Regiment, who captured the wood and handed it over
to the 17th Battalion. The same night the Gennans counter-attacked
the posts which the latter had established and after hand-to-hand
fighting managed to drive them back, in spite of stout resistance,
especially by the post commanded by Corporal J. Morrey, who
bayoneted four Gennans but fell to a rifle shot. At midnight,
however, a counter-attack, led with determination and skill by
S. Heape, regained all that had been lost, nine of the
enemy being killed, three taken prisoner and many wounded.
Heape was awarded the Military Cross and Lance-Serjeant G. H.
Stringer and Lance-Corporal A. Williamson the Military Medal.
Shortly after, the three battalions went to a more stabilized part
of the new line a little farther north. And now it is necessary to go
back slightly in point of time and see what had been happening near
Arras in the meanwhile.
"ARRAS, 1917," "SCARPE.
1st, 2nd and 10th Battalions
The first major offensive delivered by the British Anny in 1917,
known as the Battle of Arras, opened on 9th April of that year and
fonned part of a general scheme of attacks on all fronts, timed to
help each other by depriving the enemy of the power of weakening
anyone of his fronts in order to reinforce another. General Sir
Douglas Haig's first efforts were to be directed against the Gennan
troops occupying the salient between the River Scarpe and the
River Ancre into which they had been pressed as a result of the
Battle of the Somme. His intention was to attack both shoulders of
this salient at the same time--the Third Anny thrusting from the
north-west about Arras, the Fifth Anny from the south-west on the
Ancre. The attacks were to converge with a view to "pinching off"
the whole salient, and the northern operation was to include the
capture of Vimy Ridge. The Gennan retirement to the Hindenburg
Line, part of which has just been described, upset this plan so far as
"pinching off" the Arras salient was concerned. But it appeared
likely that a big attack in this sector would hold a large number of
enemy troops while preparations were being completed for the main
attack of the year in Flanders, which took place eventually on 31st
July, 1917, under the title of the Third Battle of Ypres. On 9th
April, 1917, therefore, seventeen British and Dominion divisions
took part in an attack on the Gennan line which, near Arras, ran
within a few hundred yards of the eastern outskirts of that town.
One of those divisions was the 4th, in which was the 2nd Battalion
(Lieutenant-Colonel C. J . Griffin, D.S.O.) and which was to pass
through the 9th Division for the second phase of the operation.
Since the Battle of the Somme, the battalion had spent the winter
in the Somme district until 3rd March, 1917, when it went to the