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2IO
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
9TH
Bx.
"Messines" was the 9th (Lieutenant-Colonel E.
C.
da Costa), which
worked in the forward area during the action and stood by through–
out 7th June in readiness to take part in the attack on the final
objective if help was needed. After the battle, the battalion
occupied reserve lines from lOth to 18th June near Four Huns Farm,
in the capture of which the IIth Battalion had taken a part. In
an order sent out to companies of the 9th Battalion during this period,
the curious word "decksies" appears: "dixies" was what was
meant.
The successes of the Second-Line Territorial units were continued
2ND/ 6TH
by the 2nd/6th Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel H.
L.
Anderton, 6th
BN.
West Yorkshire Regiment) near Givenchy early on 13th June,
when "A" (Captain
J.
L.
Lee, M.C.) and
"D"
(Captain E.
J.
Jones)
Companies entered the enemy's trenches on a front of two hundred
yards and penetrated them to a depth of one hundred and thirty
yards with the objects of diverting attention from the operations
near Messines, of inflicting losses, of lowering German morale while
increasing our own, and of obtaining identifications. Surprise was
to a large extent lost by the need for cutting the enemy's very thick
wire by means of a bombardment spread over several days; the
Germans naturally retaliated and added to the difficulties of the
raiding party by putting gas shells on to the communication trench
up which it had to reach its assembly position and on to No Man's
Land during the advance. Nevertheless, thanks partly to daring
reconnaissances on previous nights by Second-Lieutenant
J.
H.
Johnston, the attack was launched at 3 a.m. with success, "A"
Company being on the right and
"D"
on the left. The party stayed
in the German front, support and reserve trenches for nearly an
hour, bombing dug-outs and inflicting a number of casualties. No
prisoners were secured, but a light machine
gun
was captured and
several identifications were obtained from t4e corpses of those
killed. The Germans counter-attacked vigorously by bombing along
the trenches and also by moving over the open. But their efforts
were held off until the time appointed for withdrawal when, under
cover of a smoke screen provided by a party of Royal Engineers, the
two companies retired. Then, however, their casualties began, one
of the first to fall being the commander of the attack, Captain E. J.
J ones. Altogether the raid cost the battalion 2 officers and
5
other
ranks killed, 3 officers and
54
other ranks wounded and 19 men
missing. Private
J.
\Vbitehead of "D" Company stayed in No Man's
Land throughout the day and brought back useful information at
night. Another man had an even more remarkable adventure:
Private McAteer became separated from "A" Company before its
withdrawal; he was seen between the German support and reserve
lines trying to bring back a wounded comrade, the German counter–
attack passed over him, but he lay low, made his way cautiously
to the German front line in the afternoon and finally, at about
6 p.m., climbed the enemy parapet and walked back to his own lines
without a shot being fired. The behaviour of the Germans after this