Page 236 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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scale plan that they were soon able to get back on their proper line
of advance, without being left behind by the creeping barrage. At
3-45 a.m. the leading companies of the nth Battalion crossed the
Steenbeck, which was found not to exist except for a few shell holes
full of water, and passed through the 13th Cheshire Regiment. At
4.7 a.m. "A" and "B" Companies had captured their first objective
Occur Trench, which ran north and south about 1,300 yards
north-west of Messines and just east of the Steenbeck. With it
they took two machine guns and forty-one prisoners. During
this phase of the action, a gap appeared between the 1st Wiltshire
Regiment and the division next on the left, and casualties were
caused by a machine gun firing from Lumni's Farm in this gap.
Major S. S. Ogilvie, D.S.O., of the Wiltshire Regiment, took a
company of his unit and some parties collected from other units,
including the nth Lancashire Fusiliers, and captured it, killing and
taking prisoner its entire garrison of forty-one.
In the meanwhile, "C" and "D" Companies had advanced and,
at 4.50 a.m., passed through "A" and "B" Companies and took
October Trench which lay eight hundred yards beyond Occur
Trench and ran almost due north from the village of Messines. The
booty included two machine guns. Some resistance was encountered
at Middle Farm, which was situated one hundred and fifty yards
beyond October Trench and on the main Messines-Ypres road.
"A" and "B" Companies, which had been reorganized, moved up to
help "C" and "D."
carried out a turning movement to the left ,
while "C" Company delivered a frontal attack, helped by "B"
Company of the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles on the right. At 5.5 a .m.
"C" and "D" Companies were able to push on to their final objective,
October Support Trench, which ran parallel to, and on the east side
of, the main road. Its garrison did not stay to welcome the new
tenants, but withdrew, leaving four machine guns behind. Some
casualties were suffered from German snipers while "C" and "D"
were waiting for the barrage to lift from October Support Trench;
but the nuisance was speedily suppressed by rifle and rifle-grenade
fire. Second-Lieutenant M. L. Bernstein led his platoon with great
skill and dash during this stage of the battle. Although he was
wounded before the advance to the battalion's final objective, he
refused to leave his men, but took part in the capture of a number of
prisoners and in the reorganization of the position until he was
ordered to go to the dressing station. Company Serjeant-Major
]. W. Nolan also distinguished himself and commanded a platoon
with great dash and ability after the officer had been hit. His
personal example and offensive spirit were a great help to his
company generally and contributed largely to the speed with which
they made an unusually long advance.
It was a day on which boundaries between units and companies
counted for little and the initiative of individuals counted for much.
A party of "A" Company attached itself to the 9th Loyal North
Lancashire Regiment and helped in the capture of Swayne's Farm,