Page 229 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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AN EPILOGUE TO THE BATTLE OF ARRAS
10th Battalion
Although the Battle of Arras is regarded officially as having come
to an end on 4th May, 1917, the Commander-in-Chief directed that
attention should continue to be distracted from his preparations for
a big offensive
in
the Ypres area by the maintenance of activity near
Arras, the required effect being obtained by "a careful selection of
important objectives of a limited nature, deliberate preparation of
attack, concentration of artillery and economy of infantry." In
pursuance of this policy, the 10th Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel
10TH BN.
T. S. H. Wade, D.S.O.) relieved the 9th Duke of Wellington 's
Regiment on 11th May in trenches south of Gavrelle and at 6.30 a.m.
the next day attacked with the object of taking two German trenches
opposite it and establishing six posts beyond them. Owing to part
of the battalion being led astray during the relief, it got no rest that
night, but had to go straight to its assembly trenches. Moreover,
while the battalion was moving to those trenches a German aero-
plane appeared and flew along the line, dropping lights. The attack
was made by three companies and was intended to be a surprise; but
the Germans were evidently expecting it and their barrage came
down the moment the advance began. The first wave of the left
company, "A" (Captain A.
J.
Barrow), was held up a short distance
from the enemy trenches by artillery, rifle and machine-gun fire , but
was carried forward by the second wave under Barrow himself. A
great part of the company entered the German trench and stayed
there for about half an hour, fighting with bayonet and bomb against
persistent attacks from both flanks . Eventually, after losing all its
officers except Barrow and using
all
its bombs, it was forced out and
compelled to retire to its starting line, where Barrow insisted on
remaining with it for several hours, although he had been seriously
wounded early in the attack. A small number of the centre company,
"B" (Major D. C. E. ff. Comyn), entered the German trench with
"A" Company and shared their fortunes. The rest were mown down
by a machine gun which had been pushed forward into an emplace-
ment in Jront of the trench . The survivors were driven back to their
own trenches. The right company, "D" (Captain
R.
E. Harriss),
never reached the German trench and suffered very heavily from the
same machine
gun.
The discomfort of the much-shaken remnants
of the attacking troops was increased by German shelling of their
trenches for the rest of the day. The stretcher-bearers behaved most
gallantly in going out in daylight to bring in wounded, without
regard to the activity of enemy snipers. Many wounded men crawled
back during the night and some were brought back from close to the
German wire, but one officer, Second-Lieutenant C. Charnley, lay
out for three days, sustaining himself on iron rations and cigarettes
before he was able to make his way back. Captain A.
J.
Barrow was
awarded the Military Cross for his fine work, and the Brigade
Commander stated that he considered that the failure of the attack