Page 257 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THIRD BATTLE OF YPRES-BATTLE OF CAMBRAI
229
severely wounded. Still farther to the left, the two companies of
1st/6th whose objective was Iberian Farm had no sooner begun their
advance than they came under very heavy machine-gun fire from
some gun-pits on the southern slopes of Hill 35 and from an em–
placement in front of a camouflaged dug-out close to Iberian Farm.
They also received from Beck House the fire which should by rights
have been directed against the company attacking it. What
happened has never been fully established. Air reports indicated
that some of the attackers succeeded in reaching trenches north and
south of Iberian ; but the majority became casualties before they
got so far . Most of the survivors, reorganized and led forward by
Second-Lieutenant K .
E.
Candy, who had come over from the right
when he realized the severity of the losses in officers, advanced to
within a hundred yards or less of the farm: part of the left company
established itself in a hollow about a hundred vards west of it;
while what was left of the right company made a lrttle more progress
but was in no position to push home an attack in the face of the
intense machine-gun fire.
It
was now the turn of the Germans. At about IO.45 a.m. some
three companies of them delivered a counter-attack.
It
was reported
that those taking part in it wore no equipment and carried no rifles
and they appear to have relied on bombs. They came under heavy
artillery fire and also under rifle fire all along the line. But though
they suffered heavy casualties, they succeeded in coming to close
quarters. They retook Beck House and killed or captured the
whole of its occupants with the exception of two wounded men who
managed to escape. As Beck House was entirely out of sight of the
original front line, there was no communication with it except by
runner, with the result that battalion headquarters had received no
word from there after sending up reinforcements at 9.30 a.m. and
was unaware of its loss till the two survivors arrived at 6 p.m.
Nor were the troops opposite Iberian more fortunate. For during
the afternoon the machine-gun fire from Hill 35, Iberian itself and
the lost Beck House became so intense that eventually it compelled
the survivors of the left companies of 1st/6th to withdraw to their
original front line. Candy, although wounded early in the day,
remained with his troops till they were relieved after dark. Amongst
others of the 1st/6th who earned distinction on this day were
Serjeant G. Ward, who went out six times under heavy enemy fire to
bring in wounded men before he was seriously wounded himself, and
Lance-Corporal E. Taylor, who helped to break up an enemy attack
by rushing his Lewis gun into a shell hole and sticking to it after the
rest of his team had been knocked out, until ordered to withdraw.
The misfortunes which had befallen the 1st/6th had their effect
on the situation of the 1st/5th. The withdrawal of all troops on its
left had resulted in this flank being in the air. When therefore the
enemy launched a counter-attack at about 7.30 p.m., the left flank
was threatened with envelopment and, in spite of the heavy losses
inflicted on the Germans by artillery, machine-gun and rifle fire, had