Page 222 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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194
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
As the battalion arrived under cover of the railway embankment,
it shook out into the formation in which it was to attack. "C"
Company (Captain S. W. Howarth), which was to direct, was on the
right with its right flank resting on the Athies-Fampoux road. "B"
Company (Captain G. G. Bowen) was on its left. "D" (Lieutenant
E.
L.
Hartley) was in support to "C," and "A" (Captain W.
R.
Fanner) to
HB."
The 9th Division had not been able to keep up to
its time-table, with the result that the battalion had to wait in the
open, losing about 150 men in casualties. At I.30 p.m., however, it
moved forward, reaching the "Brown Line" at 2 p.m.
"c"
and
"B" Companies assembled in trenches in that line, with "D" and
"A" in trenches behind. Under cover of a creeping barrage, the
battalion advanced to the attack at 3.13 p.m. and, except for a few
wild and inaccurately aimed shells and some equally wild rifle fire,
reached its first objective at 3.45 p.m. without difficulty and
practically without casualties. Most of the enemy in the fourth
German system came out and surrendered. A few started to run
away, but were mostly accounted for by Lewis-gun fire. The
Germans dropped many shells into the westernmost trenches of the
system, but though they added to the discomfort of the prisoners
they did no harm to the British. The battalion's haul at this stage
consisted of about 2 officers and 50 other ranks and 9 field guns.
The two leading companies pushed out their patrols to their front;
and posts were established at 3.50 p.m. in the sunken road which
runs due north from the centre of Fampoux and in which four
4.2-inch guns were taken, one being promptly marked in chalk "C
Company, 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers." In the meanwhile the Com–
manding Officer and the adjutant (Captain G. C. Martin, M.C.) were
to be seen sitting calmly at the edge of a road, eating sandwiches as
if there were no war within a hundred miles.
At 4.12 p.m. the second phase of the battalion's operation began.
"D" and "A" Companies passed through "C" and "B" and advanced
towards the "Green Line." On reaching the road which runs north
from the eastern end of Fampoux towards Gavrelle, they came under
heavy machine-gun fire. They tried to push on, but finally had to
dig in just east of this road as the ground beyond was flat and
swept by fire coming from the direction of the chemical works north
of Roeux, of which more will be heard later in this chapter. The
line thus reached represented a total advance of four miles from the
British position as it was before 9th April. Much of the .credit for
the success of the attack was officially given to Lieutenant-Colonel
Griffin, who not only commanded the battalionwith great ability but
was also mainly responsible for communication being re-established
with the brigade on the left at a critical moment. In this task he
was helped by Private H. Ramsden, who volunteered to carry an
important message through a very heavy artillery barrage and
succeeded in doing so after three other men had failed.
"D" and "A" Companies maintained touch with the units on
their flanks and, thanks largely to the energy of Captain W.
R.