Page 226 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
That night, Slingsby was ordered to take his company ("B")
to a place known as "Twin Copses," to the north-east of
Monchy, in order to relieve the 2nd South Wales Borderers.
He succeeded in doing so by dawn; and about that time, "D"
Company and "A" Company relieved other troops of the 87th
Brigade in front of Arrow Head Copse, which lay to the east of
Monchy. The companies were between fifty and eighty strong, as
ISO
men were attached to the Royal Engineers for the construction
ofgun-pits south of Orange Hill. Throughout the day of the 24th,
German shelling was heavy and the trenches were badly knocked
about. The battalion was to have attacked at 4 p .m., but the plan
was altered to an assault by the 2nd Royal Fusiliers only, the
remainder of the brigade giving support with their Lewis guns and
taking advantage of the barrage to push forward patrols and, if
possible, to establish their line farther forward. Another order
which was countermanded was one for the relief of the battalion
during the night of 24th/25th April. This had a very sad consequence.
Battalion headquarters had been moved forward to the east side of
Monchy. There the Commanding Officer (Lieutenant-Colonel M.
Magniac, D.S.O.), the bombing officer (Lieutenant W.
R.
B. Caseby)
and the adjutant (Lieutenant H. S. Bloodworth) were sitting under
a waterproof sheet in a recess of a communication trench when a
shell struck the edge of the trench, killing Magniac and Caseby and
severely wounding the adjutant. The death of Meredith Magniac
brought to an end a career of service to the Regiment which had
begun in 1898 : he had, in 1915, returned to it from staff employ–
ment because he loved his men, who loved him.
German shelling was heavy throughout the 25th, but both on that
day and on the day before men of the battalion had taken toll of
German infantrymen who freely exposed themselves, Captain T.
Slingsby accounting for at least ten. During the night of 25th/26th
April, guides were again sent to meet a relieving unit. This time, after
great difficulties, three companies were relieved by about 7 a.m. on
26th, but Slingsby could find no one to relieve
him
and, after
exchanging messages with several neighbouring units, got an order
from the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment to return to Arras
without relief, too late, however, for him to get his company out
before daylight. Moreover, if he had moved without being relieved he
would have left a dangerous gap in the line through which the enemy
could have reached the Twin Copses and so outflanked the line in two
directions. He therefore remained at Twin Copses throughout the
26th-shelled by German 5.9-inch and 8-inch howitzers, which
knocked out five runners whom he sent with reports to battalion
headquarters-until dark, when he was relieved by the King's Own
and marched to Arras, where he arrived about 11.45 a.m. and, with
his very hungry company, ate up the contents of the 17th Division's
canteen I During these four days, the battalion lost 2 officers and 25
otber ranks killed, 4 officers and 137 other ranks wounded, and 5 other
ranks missing. These casualties included 13 battalion headquarter