Page 230 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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was not in any way due to a lack of dash or initiative on the part of
the company officers. But the day had cost the battalion 13 of its
IS company officers and 226 other ranks
casualties, which can
hardly be described as "economy of infantry."
The arrival of the First-Line Territorial battalions in France has
already been noted. They were soon to be afforded some training
in what amounted to a night operation, some of whose features
appertained to trench warfare and some to open warfare. The
125th Infantry Brigade, which comprised the First-Line Territorial
battalions, went into the line near Epehy on 8th April, 1917, and
took part in a minor operation on the night of 12th/13th April, with
the object of advancing the line of outposts in conjunction with a
similar movement by the neighbouring division. Three parties left
the brigade's lines at 9 p.m. One party, consisting of a company of
the 1st/7th Battalion under Captain W. Kelly, was to seize a wood
known as "No. 12 Copse." The leading platoon, under Lieutenant
Swindells, after some difficulty in maintaining touch between its
sections, reached the copse and met with considerable opposition
from an enemy body of an estimated strength of about sixty. Some
Germans got behind the platoon and Swindells withdrew it to the
edge of the wood and reorganized it. He was wounded in the mouth
and unable to give any further orders. In the meanwhile, a support–
ing platoon, accompanied by Kelly, missed its way and, after a detour
to the south, met Swindells's platoon on its way back. KeUy took
command of both platoons and, calling up a third platoon, advanced
through the copse, entrenching on the far side of it. The second
party, two platoons of 1st/7th Battalion under Second-Lieutenant
Andexer, moved from Tetard Wood (seven hundred yards
east of Epehy) towards
wood known
Nameless Copse, preceded
by a body of scouts under Second-Lieutenant F. W. Irving which had
a roving commission to search the ground covered by the whole
operation and to clear it of any hostile patrols. The scouts came
across a German patrol which was lying on the ground and which
fired. The scouts took cover and Irving shouted to Andexer who
promptly extended his platoon and moved them quickly forward in
an endeavour to surround the Germans. The latter ran away and
could not be overtaken. Andexer then led his platoon forward and
dug in on his objective. The third party, which consisted of two
1 ST/5 TH
platoons of the 1st/5th Battalion under Lieutenant E.
reached its allotted goal without opposition and also dug in.
company of the 1st/6th Battalion was placed at the disposal of the
1st /7th during this operation in case support was needed; it was
used to relieve Kelly's company when the latter had consolidated its
new line.
The next day, 13th April, Malassise Farm, a large building
standing about 1,500 yards south-east of Epehy, which was occupied
by a platoon of the 1st/6th Battalion and some men of the 1st/7th,