Page 268 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
sector of the line about eight hundred yards north-east of Lange–
marck . The line in this area was not straight and had a sharp back–
ward bend near the left of the battalion's portion of it. Orders were
issued next day for an attack on 9th October. The first objective,
called the "Green Dotted Line," was rather over five hundred yards
from the front line but not entirely parallel to it-a source of
trouble during the operation. The second objective was named the
"Blue Dotted Line" and lay five hundred yards beyond the first ,
to which it was nearly parallel. The battalion's right and left
boundaries on it were marked by Senegal Farm and Tranquille
House respectively. On the way to the first objective were a number
of German strong points, notably at Olga Houses. The keeping of
direction after leaving the "Green Dotted Line" was not made
easier by the fact that the main road leading from Poelcappelle to
Houthulst Forest ran diagonally across the line of advance and
therefore tended to swing the attacking waves to the right. The
capture of the first objective was assigned to "A" Company (Captain
R. Downes, M.C.) on the right and "B" Company (Lieutenant C. L.
Rougier) on the left. "C" and "D" (Second-Lieutenant G. Garnet)
Companies were then to pass through and seize and consolidate the
"Blue Dotted Line." Special parties were to be detailed to deal
with
all
strong points on the battalion's front. In addition, "A"
Company was to detail a liaison post, consisting of a N.C.O. and
two men, to maintain touch with the 2nd Battalion at Millers
Houses, where the two battalions would join on the first objective.
At the end of the 1st Battalion's operation order, the Commanding
Officer (Lieutenant-Colonel A. H. S. Hart Synnot, D .S.O., East
Surrey Regiment) added the following inspiring paragraph over
the signature of his adjutant , Captain G. S. Lockwood :-
"29. THE OCCASION.-It
is a great day
in
the history of the XXth
Regiment, when the first and second Battalions advance to the attack side
by side."
The night of 8th/9th October was a time of considerable anxiety
and discomfort. Much rain had fallen and the ground was very wet ,
muddy and slippery, though in the early morning a good drying
wind made some amends. There was no moon and the night was
extremely dark. The laying-out of the tapes on which the companies
were to form up for the attack was not an easy task: there was at
first insufficient material; the line was of an awkward shape, as has
been mentioned; and the mud and darkness made work very slow.
Nevertheless the tapes were successfully laid by the battalion's
intelligence officer, Lieutenant
J.
E.
Cotgrave, and his work was not
disturbed by the very heavy shelling to which almost all the ground
between Langemarck and the starting line was subjected. But the
troubles of this night were not over. When Lieutenant-Colonel Hart
Synnot went forward at 2 a.m. to see how the preparations were
progressing, he was told by Rougier that two out of
his
three
platoons had gone astray on the way to the tapes and that all