Page 287 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
waves of that battalion bad not only lost very heavily but bad
tended to incline to their right before they were finally held up and so
18TH BN .
to lose touch with the 18th Lancashire Fusiliers.
The latter had also partly lost direction, and some of its platoons
even came up on the left of the 17th Battalion, whose waves were
ordered to establish strong points on their right flank, while its
"z"
Company was instructed to swing half-right so as to cover the
exposed right rear. In spite of the stopping of the 23rd Manchester
Regiment, the 18th Battalion pushed on as far as it could, but began
to suffer heavy casualties. At about 6.15 a.m., Captain M.
R.
Wood,
M.C., commanding "X" Company of the 18th, realized that he had
worked too far to his left and moved his men back a short distance
and then across to the right, with the object of re-establishing touch
with the Manchester Regiment and of finding a clear way forward
to the Forest. The unfortunate double effect of the delay on the
right and the partial loss of direction in the centre was that some
huts which the Germans occupied in the middle of the zone of attack
were not dealt with. Fire from them continued throughout the day
to hold up the Manchesters; and they not only prevented Wood's
company from gaining contact with that unit, but also caused it
numerous casualties on its way to the Forest. On approaching the
outskirts of the latter, Second-Lieutenant P. Torrance saw a
German machine
gun
in action in front of
him.
He promptly sent
his men round each flank and then charged the positions himself,
capturing the gun and its crew. This gallant action enabled "X"
Company to gain a footing within the Forest. Progress was also
helped by the bravery and dash of Lance-Corporal]. A. Attley, who
rushed forward under heavy fire and single-handed captured the
whole of a German machine-gun crew who were causing casualties.
But "X" Company's right flank was entirely unprotected; and as
they became almost surrounded by Germans they were compelled
after a hard fight to withdraw to the edge. Torrance was wounded
at this stage and as he refused to withdraw till all others had left he
could not be brought away. His servant stayed with
him
and both
were taken prisoner. Wood was also lost to the company, being
killed in the Forest.
The left half of the leading wave of the 18th Battalion, however,
succeeded in reaching its objective and in establishing
firm
contact
with the 17th Battalion, though the men of both battalions were
now in a very exhausted state, owing to the heavy and broken
condition of the ground over which they had advanced. Moreover,
there still existed a dangerous gap on the right of the 18th. To
fill
it,
the brigade commander at about
II
a.m. ordered up two companies
20TH BN.
of the 20th Battalion. They advanced under Captain W. A. Swar–
brick through very heavy shell fire and took up a position with their
right at Aden House. They were well installed by 12 noon and sent
out officers' patrols to a distance of about five hundred yards to the
north-east in order to gain touch with the division on the right
if
possible. Soon after these companies had moved forward, the rest