Page 273 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
"B" Company itself
in
the meanwhile had not had an unopposed
advance . Almost as soon as it moved forward, it came under heavy
fire from its right front and also from the left. Nevertheless it
managed to keep up with the barrage and to reach the first objective
at the expected time, largely thanks to Serjeant W. Isherwood who,
having taken command of his platoon when the officer (Second–
Lieutenant G. H. Stelfox) was wounded, rushed a "pill-box" and
led his men to their place on the "Dotted Green Line."
About 6 a.m. the prisoners taken by "A" and "B" Companies had
begun to reach battalion headquarters. Within half an hour at
least 150 Germans had been collected. They belonged to the 441st
and 447th Infantry Regiments and were Hessians. Thereafter a
steady stream of prisoners came in, many of them carrying or helping
the wounded of both sides.
Meanwhile, the battle went on. As soon as they had reached the
first objective, "A" and "B" Companies began to dig in on it. "C"
and "D" passed through them and lay down close behind the
barrage, which had paused to protect the holders of the "Green
Dotted Line." When it moved on, these companies moved too, but
with ranks sadly thinned by casualties and having lost many of
their commanders. Their numbers were, however, increased by men
of other units who had become separated from their own folk in the
confusion of battle--the Guards, Worcestershire, the Duke of
Wellington's and the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers-in addition to a
considerable proportion of the 2nd Royal Fusiliers, the reserve
battalion of the 86th Infantry Brigade, which had closed up on the
tail of the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers and become intermingled with it.
Such was the confusion that from now on the operations were
continued by the individual initiative and leadership of junior officers
and N.C.Os. who gathered round them small groups of soldiers,
regardless of their regiment, and did their best to push on.
Just as "C" Company began its advance, the enemy counter–
attacked from the north and north-east, supported by much rifle
fire which caused a considerable number of casualties. This attempt
was, however, driven off by rifle fire and the Germans were so
roughly handled by the creeping barrage that they retired
in
front
of the company. All the officers were hit except Second-Lieutenant
J. F.
R.
Le Mesurier, who took command of a mixed body of troops
and succeeded in establishing himself
in
Senegal Farm, on the
" Blue Dotted Line," the remains of a farm-house with a "pill-box"
in the middle of it. He at once began to consolidate his position and
took steps to protect his right flank where there was a gap between
himself and the left of the 2nd Battalion. In this he was ably
helped by Serjeant F. Diver, who had also succeeded to the command
of his platoon when the subaltern became a casualty. He had been
badly shaken by the explosion of a shell but had nevertheless
continued to lead his men forward. On Le Mesurier's orders, he took
them to the right of Senegal Farm and established a
firm
protection
on the exposed flank. The precautions thus taken were not super-