Page 29 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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16
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, 1914-1918
British again. And in this historic action, the Regiment had played
an important part.
THE RETREAT
CO~TIXGED
The 2nd Battalion was at the place opposite which the First–
Line Territorials, the 2nd/5th and several of the Service battalions
were often to find themselves in 1917 after the retirement of the
Germans to the Hindenburg Line. But for the original Expeditionary
Force there was as yet no rest, and on 27th August that part of the
2nd Battalion which had been collected at Selvigny marched off from
Vendhuille through Lempire to Ronssoy, just south of which it
entrenched itself in a temporary rear-guard position on the east of the
road down which the 4th Division was retiring.
liB"
Company
(Lieutenant A. ]. W. Blencowe), as escort to a battery of artillery,
dug itself in under cover of a mist. At 5 a.m. the mist lifted and
disclosed a German battery only six hundred yards away. After a
spirited duel between the guns, helped by rapid rifle fire from
liB"
Company, the Germans withdrew and the British guns were got
away by horses borrowed from a cavalry regiment, being first man–
handled for some distance by men of the company. At
II
a.m. the
12th Brigade, now acting as rear-guard to the 4th Division, marched
on through Templeux-Ie-Guerard and took up another position on a
hill
about three-quarters of a mile to the south of that village.
Later in the day, the battalion marched to Hancourt where it had a
rest for a few hours before it tramped on again from
II
p.m. till
II
a.m. on 28th August, when it reached Voyennes. During this
march, such was the utter weariness of the troops that by Divisional
order the usual hourly halts were left out for fear that once men lay
down it would be impossible to rouse them again to continue the
march. A few hours later, the battalion moved on to Muirancourt
where it bivouacked at about 7 p.m. Before leaving Voyennes, an
order was received for all kits to be thrown out of the wagons and
for the latter to be used for the carrying of the sick and wounded.
One effect of this order was that changes of clothes depended on
parcels from home for some time thereafter.
On the following day, 29th August, the battalion moved off at
about
II
a.m., crossed the River Oise at Noyon and marched to
Carlepont, some four and a half miles south of that town. After a
rest of some hours, it marched at about 4 a.m. through Tracy-Ie–
Mont, halted shortly before 9 a.m. in an area where no shade or
water was to be found, and at 2 p.m. moved to an outpost position at
Berneuil, just north of the River Aisne fourteen miles west of
Soissons and eight miles east of Compiegne. At 4.30 p.m. the outposts
began to dig in while the remainder of the battalion marched a further
two miles to Cuise Lamotte, on the south side of the Aisne, getting
in
soon after 5 p.m. after one of the longest, hottest and most trying
marches which any part of the Regiment was called upon to do
during the war. Early the next morning, 31st August, the 12th
Brigade marched through the Forest of Compiegne in a westerly