Page 260 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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232
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
Lieutenant-Colonel Brighten had been made responsible in the
brigade's orders for supervising the assembly of a company of another
battalion; and when the commanding officer of a third battalion
offered to look after the 2nd/5th's three rear companies, the least
Colonel Brighten could do was to undertake to help that battalion's
forward companies, so that in effect he became responsible for the
front line of the wbole brigade. After a march rendered very difficult
by the mass of shell holes, by the exceptional darkness of the night
and by the rain which had now started again and which made the
tracks very slippery, the companies reached their assembly positions
by 1.30 a.m. The battalion's frontage was three hundred yards. Its
objectives were the "Dotted Red Line," roughly the line of Schuler
Galleries, 1,500 yards south-east of St . Julien; the "Yellow Line,"
an arbitrary line lying half-way between the Galleries and the
final obj ective; and the familiar "Green Line" which was the
Zonnebeke-Langemarck road. The Galleries were a row of concrete
dug-outs, heavily covered with earth, and harbouring a number of
machine guns.
"e"
(Second-Lieut enant
J.
G. Smerdon) and
"D"
(Captain
R.
A. Mudie) Companies were to form the first and
second waves and to capture the "Dotted Red Line" and the
"Yellow Line." "A" (Major H. P. Cochrane) and "B" (Captain
G. G. A. Kerr) Companies were to be the third and fourth waves,
with the task of passing through the previous waves when tbese had
taken their objectives and seizing the "Green Line," beyond which
they were to establish a post at Green House.
At 3 a.m. a final conference of company commanders was held, at
which watches were synchronized . At 5.30 a .m. the shelling which
had gone on slowly but steadily for several days was quickened to a
short, hurricane bombardment. And at about 5-40 a.m. the attack .
began . The morning, like tbe night its predecessor, was very dark
and it was difficult to distinguish any objects. But in spite of the
heavy barrage under which the troops went forward, German
machine guns opened fire almost at once from Schuler Galleries and
from points on the extreme right and left which took the advancing
lines in reverse. The enemy's artillery barrage also came down very
quickly, catcbing the rear waves. The result was that, by the time
a secure footing had been obtained at chuler Galleries at 6.37 a.m.,
the battalion had lost half its strength. The Galleries were not taken
without a struggle. Rifle grenades proved very useful in dealing with
the machine guns located in them; but close fighting was needed
for a considerable time before the position was finally cleared of
Germans. Lieutenant-Colonel Brighten sent Second-Lieutenant
B. E. Cridland and a few signallers to Schuler Galleries as a forward
command-post at 7.15 a.m. Half an hour later the Liverpool Irish,
wbose chief task was the capture of Schuler Farm, immediately to
the left of the Galleries, reported that they were held up and asked
for the loan of four Lewis guns, as all their own were out of action.
One was sent. The effect of the stopping of the Irish was that the
2nd/5th Battalion's left could make no progress beyond the Galleries.