Page 264 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
I9I4-I9I8
it did not know it at the time. After its action near Langemarck on
I6th August it had spent the rest of the month in finding working
parties in the forward area. September began unluckily, for at
4.30 a.m. on the 4th a German aeroplane, perhaps returning from a
raid with some spare bombs and seeing the glow of the fires with
which breakfasts were being cooked for an early start, dropped six
bombs in the battalion's lines, killed I6 men and wounded 71. The
month was devoted to very thorough training in an area behind the
line. Detailed rehearsals of the forthcoming operations were
performed on a training ground on which the battlefield had been
laid out to scale, conspicuous features being labelled with their
names. Plans were formed and practised for the assault and capture
of all known German strong points in the line of attack. Sand
models of the terrain were also made and inspected by all ranks, who
became act-perfect in their parts. On Ist October the battalion
moved forward to Dirty Bucket Camp, Brandhoek. Next day
battalion headquarters, "W" and "X" Companies advanced to the
canal bank north of Ypres, "Y" Company going to Murat Shelters
near Brielen. During the night of 2nd/3rd October, "W" and "X"
Companies relieved the 9th West Yorkshire Regiment and the 6th
York and Lancaster Regiment in the line south-west of Poelcappelle,
with "Y" Company in support at Maison Bulgare, just east of the
Hanebeek stream. Battalion headquarters went to Bulow Farm,
south-east of Langemarck, and "Z" Company stepped up to Murat
Shelters.
The front line at this time was about five hundred yards farther
forward than when the 9th Battalion left it on I7th August. The
final objective for the attack on 4th October was a line running south–
south-east from Poelcappelle, the 9th Battalion's left boundary being
at Gloster Farm, five hundred yards from the outskirts of the village,
and its right at Terrier Farm, giving it a frontage of four hundred
and fifty yards. Its first objective-the "Dotted Red Line"-was a
road turning south-east from the St.
J
ulien- Poelcappelle road about
seven hundred yards from the latter village and the same distance
from the starting line.
Late on 2nd October the forming-up lines were marked out with
string about one hundred yards east of the Stroombeek stream and
the same distance behind the front line, and were reconnoitred by
the company commanders , who also looked over the ground of which
they already knew the features so well. The following day was
quiet, except for frequent shelling of the back areas. Shortly after
dusk Second-Lieutenant
C.
H. Brewer, with Serjeant
J.
Blackledge
and the battalion scouts, replaced the st rings at the forming-up
places by white tape and marked the boundary between the leading
companies in the same way. Patrols were sent out by the forward
companies to prevent the enemy observing that anything out of the
ordinary was happening near the front line. One such patrol met a
German patrol, of which they killed three men and took one
prisoner. The plan for the attack was for "X" Company (Lieutenant