Page 252 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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224
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, 1914-19I8
establish a "jumping-off" line on the far bank, as had been done
by the 1St Battalion, had not proved successful. Bridges were
in existence, however, and an officer led tapes forward to them
from the area occupied by the battalion. The attack took place
in two stages. In the first the 8th Northumberland Fusiliers and 5th
Dorsetshire Regiment, starting at 4-45 a.m., were to capture a line
slightly beyond the Zonnebeke-Langemarck road. The 9th Lan–
cashire Fusiliers, with the IIth Manchester Regiment on their right,
were to follow the Dorsetshire, pass through them when they had
taken their objective and capture a line running parallel to it and
lying about half a mile to the north-east of it. The left of the
final objective rested on a subsidiary road connecting Poelcappelle
with Langemarck at a spot called "White House," 1,000 yards
east of the latter place. The first stage of the attack was carried
through according to plan and by 7.20 a.m. the battalion had
passed through the Dorsetshire and formed up behind the barrage
which was to lead it to its objective at 7.30 a.m.
"w"
(Captain
E.
M.
Dawson) and
"z"
(Captain
E. E.
W. Granger) Companies formed the
first wave, with "X" and "Y" as the second. On the left the bat–
talion's attack was completely successful. Indeed, the advance was
so rapid that Second-Lieutenant H. H. Goss outstripped the barrage,
which had become thin during this phase, and arrived at the White
House before the time laid down in the programme, only to be
wounded and shelled out by the supporting artillery when its fire
caught him up. The IIth Manchester Regiment, however, had been
held up early in their attack owing to the division on their right
having been unable to make progress. In consequence,
"Z"
and "X"
Companies, after reaching a point about four hundred yards from
their objective at the cost of considerable casualties, found their right
flank exposed to heavy enfilade fire. Granger was shot through the
neck and all the officers of "X" Company had by now been wounded.
Serjeant A. Hodkinson assumed command of it and had a most diffi–
cult task as he received a series of contradictory orders, purporting
to come from the Commanding Officer, which twice caused him first
to withdraw his men to the line held by the Dorsetshire and then to
advance again to
his
original position, at the cost of further casualties.
He repeatedly tried to establish touch with the IIth Manchester, but
it was a long time before he was able to do so. Touch had also been
lost with
"y"
and
"z"
Companies on the left. Here, too, a company
commander had become a casualty, Dawson being wounded after
reaching the objective. Lieutenant
J.
Hayes, M.C., then took over
the command of
"w"
Company as well as of "Y" and set to work to
establish contact on his two flanks. To the right, he first sent a
bombing party down a trench
in
the hope of reaching
"Z"
and "X"
Companies: it never came back. Two further patrols sent in the
same direction also failed to return.
A
third, however, located the
enemy in a trench
in
which Hayes established a block to prevent
any interference from that quarter. To the left, he sent Second–
Lieutenant
A.
W. Inglis with orders to bend back the line and gain