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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, 1914-1918
THE CROSSING OF THE STEENBECK NEAR LANGEMARCK
1st Battalion
1ST BN.
On 9th August the 1st Battalion (Major T. Slingsby, M.C.) re-
lieved the 2nd Royal Fusiliers in the line on the south-west side of
the Steenbeck stream about a mile west of Langemarck, and officers
reconnoitred the crossings over the stream the same night. They
found that, owing to the rain, the Steenbeck had by now become a
serious military obstacle in many places. Since it was necessary that
a firm footing should be obtained on the far bank before further
operations on a large scale could be undertaken in this direction,
orders were issued for posts to be established about one hundred
yards beyond the river on the morning of nth August. The task was
entrusted to three platoons of the 1St Battalion and a body of equal
strength from another battalion, the former finding two posts from
"C" Company on the right and four from "B" Company on the left.
Each post was to consist of two sections. The operation was
preceded by a barrage; and zero was at 4.15 a.m. on the nth.
Shortly before that time the various parties moved forward and
crossed the river, establishing the posts in the areas indicated without
loss under cover of the barrage, though "C" Company's right post,
near the Ypres-Staden railway, was later driven back by bombs to
the bridge carrying the rails over the river. The battalion on the
left was met by such heavy machine-gun fire from Passerelle Farm,
close to Wejdendrift, that it was unable to establish its post there.
"B" Company's two left parties, under Second-Lieutenant H.
Latham, were therefore compelled to form a defensive flank. Latham
moved constantly backwards and forwards under heavy shelling and
rifle fire, supervising the dispositions ; and at one stage he led a
section across the open in order to fill a gap which had occurred.
Second-Lieutenant T. A. Harrop was wounded during the morning,
but he refused to leave his post and continued to superintend its
consolidation until the battalion was relieved. During the night
nth/12th,
<lA"
Company carried up trench stores to the posts and
was to have come back for rations. But it was unable to do so before
daybreak owing to hostile shelling and rifle fire, and consequently
had to stay in the forward positions till the following night, having
only its iron rations to eat on the 12th. At 4.20 a.m. on this day the
battalion on the left attacked and captured Passerelle Farm. The
left of "B" Company was then able to move forward to its proper
place and the complete new line was consolidated during the day,
the battalion being relieved at night, while advantage was being
taken of its success to establish twelve double wooden bridges over
the stream in readiness
for
the forthcoming operations. Second–
Lieutenants H. Latham and T. A. Harrop received the Military
Cross for their work during this operation. The casualties had been
light-8 men killed,
I
officer and 48 men wounded, and 3 men
missing. The difficulties of campaigning in a foreign country are
shown by the fact that, in a report by the officer commanding "C"