Page 256 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

to which it was allotted was unfortunately unable to take it, a
failure which gravely prejudiced the whole of the operation.
Information about the enemy's dispositions near Beck House
was sadly lacking. But Serjeant H. Finney, of the 1st/8th, took a
patrol out in daylight on 4th September and, with a rifle-grenadier
and two Lewis-gunners, crept up to within twenty-five yards of the
farm, where he remained for half an hour under fire. The enemy,
baffied by this daring procedure, sent up alarm signals from
main positions, thereby disclosing the desired information. Finney
withdrew his patrol to a safer distance, where he lay up for another
two hours before finally taking it back to the British lines. The
following night he again went out and lay up close to the enemy's
lines, getting further valuable information about their dispositions.
The attack was ordered for 6th September and was to be carried
1ST/ 5TH
out in the I25th Brigade, by the 1st/5th Battalion (Lieutenant–
Colonel P . V. Holberton, Manchester Regiment) and the 1st/6th
Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel M. F. Hammond-Smith, M.C., Royal
Inniskilling Fusiliers) . Two companies of the former were to take
Borry Farm while one company of the latter attacked Beck House
1ST/ 7TH
and two companies Iberian Farm. The 1st/7th (Lieutenant-Colonel
W. E. Maskell, Devonshire Regiment) was to be in support of the
1ST/ 8TH
1st/5th, and 1st/8th (Lieutenant-Colonel O. St.
Davies, Man-
chester Regiment) of the 1st/6th. The 1st/8th was also to provide
wiring and carrying parties for employment when the objective was
captured. The artillery preparation was thorough: on 3rd and
again 4th September, Borry Farm was bombarded by 6-inch and
12-inch howitzers and by IS-inch guns. Further shelling took place
on the 5th and brought about heavy German retaliation between
9.30 and IO.30 p.m. that night, causing serious interference with the
preparations for the attack and considerable casualties to the ration
and carrying parties of the 1st/6th, which had relieved the 1st/8th in
the line very early on the 5th. On the night of the 5th/6th, the
1st/5th dug an assembly trench which was occupied by "C" and
"D" Companies, who were to carry out the attack. At 7.15 a.m. on
6th September a heavy bombardment was opened on the objective,
especially at Borry Farm. At 7.30 a.m. the assault was launched.
On the right "C" and "D" Companies of the 1st/5th, with HA"
and HB" in support, moved forward under cover of a creeping barrage
only to be met at once by heavy machine-gun and rifle fire from
Vampire Farm, close to the Ypres-Zonnebeke road south-east of
Borry Farm, and from some dug-outs south of the latter. After
going one hundred and fifty yards, the attack could make no further
progress in face of this withering fire. To the left, the company of
the 1st/6th which was detailed for the capture of Beck House
escaped the German machine-gun and rifle fire at first, perhaps
because their advance was slightly uphill and the troops were to some
extent hidden from the defenders.
succeeded in gaining possession
of its objective; and of the garrison of
officers and 47 men, I
officer and
men were taken prisoner, the rest being killed or