Page 240 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

2I2
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
I9I4-I9i~
first British unit to occupy the extreme left of the line, as it relieved
the I65th French Infantry Regiment on I8th June. On 5th July a
platoon of the I5th Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel
H.
G. Harrison,
Manchester Regiment) under Captain
R.
Morton and Lieutenant
A. G. Edghill, had the honour of giving a demonstration of an attack
on a strong point in the presence of His Majesty King George Vat
Ghyvelde. In spite of the initial attractions of bathing and other sea–
side amenities, all accounts agree in describing the sector occupied by
the British near Dunkerque and Nieuport as thoroughly unpleasant.
The front line was straddled on both sides of the River Yser and of
several canals connected with it, across which communication was
maintained by means of frail or floating bridges, frequently broken by
enemy shells. The trench system consisted of breastworks in most
places, and swamps abounded. No dug-outs of any strength could
be made to protect the troops against the constant shelling from
German guns of all calibres, including naval ordnance. The water
obstacle between the two sides made constant raids and reconnais–
sances necessary, to discover the enemy's dispositions and to conceal
the active preparations which were being made for a big attack on
the coast, including a landing near Ostend, which was to have been an
adjunct to a successful attack at Ypres, but which had to be cancelled
when the Third Battle of Ypres stuck in the mud at Passchendaele.
On IIth July Captain C. W. Smith and two platoons of "B" Company
16TH
BN.
of the r6th Battalion attempted a raid to the east of Nieuport,
which was frustrated by uncut wire. On the I 6th Second-Lieutenant
J. McClymont and three sections of the same company delivered a
successful bombing attack on an enemy sap in the same area,
killing at least two members of a German wiring party which was
encountered. The following night Lieutenant W. N. Watts, with
three sections of "C" and "D" Companies of the 16th Battalion, set
out to attack the post which had baffled Smith's party on the IIth :
in No Man's Land they met a German raiding party about
thirty
strong and, after sharp fighting, drove them back and bombed them
in their own trenches, inflicting heavy casualties. On 22nd July
2ND/7. H
Private W. Lennon, of the 2nd/7th Battalion, displayed great gal-
BN.
lantry in rescuing some wounded men of another unit during an un–
usually heavy bombardment, being subsequently awarded the Dis–
tinguished Conduct Medal for this and a number of similar acts.
Three days later, on 25th July, Second-Lieutenant F. A. Brown and
Serjeant J. Ridings of that unit swam across the Yser Canal in the
dark and brought back valuable and much-needed information about
the enemy's dispositions on the far bank ; Serjeant Ridings received
the Military Medal for his share in this exploit. Swimming recon–
naissances were also carried out at this time by Second-Lieutenant
1. Lloyd Jones, Serjeant H. AIdred, Lance-Corporal D. Sheehan,
and Privates W. Gill and V. Lewis, all of the 2nd/7th Battalion. Not
2ND/8TH
to be outdone, the 2nd/8th Battalion performed a similar recon–
BN.
naissance on 29th July, when Privates Windsor and H. L. Phillips
swam across the Yser Canal at
II . IO
p .m. and landed behind the