Page 292 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

THIRD BATTLE OF YPRE5--BATTLE OF CAMBRAI
261
Walden was detailed for the task but only had three days in which
to prepare for it. They made the most of the time, however, and
carried out several practices; in addition to which Walden recon–
noitred the ground on
all
three nights. The raid was to last for
twenty minutes and was to take place under cover of the fire of four
machine guns, four Stokes mortars and some medium trench–
mortars, while the artillery cut the Gennan wire and then placed a
"box" barrage round the scene of attack. At zerO-2 a.m. on 16th
November-just as the raiding party was leaving its trenches, the
mortar barrage fell short, bombs falling close to the troops and
disorganizing them. The men advanced as quickly as they could
after this, but could not make up the time they had lost. No sooner
had they reached the German trenches than the recall signal was
sounded on the bugle. The leader, Walden, was the only casualty;
and he was killed. But the raid was not entirely fruitless; for
after Walden was hit the men bombed a machine gun and silenced it.
Throughout the autumn and winter of 1917, the 19th Battalion
19TH BN.
(Lieutenant-Colonel
J.
M. A. Graham, D .S.O.) was carrying out its
arduous and often thankless tasks as a pioneer battalion near
Ypres, making and repairing roads, tracks, dumps, camps and
other structures, frequently in or in front of "the line ," rarely
enjoying a complete rest or freedom from shelling. Without the
satisfaction of retaliation, it suffered casualties and a severe strain
on its spirits. But not only did its morale remain high, but a number
of its members earned rewards for gallantry and good work. For
example, in the middle of October, when a shell pitched on a road
among a working party under his command, causing several
casualties, Captain N. Whittles withdrew the party to a safer place,
went back with stretcher-bearers to remove the wounded and, when
the shelling died down, led his men forward again and finished his
~
task. He received the Military Cross. Company Serjeant-Major
A. P. West was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his
coolness and skill, which inspired such confidence in his men when
the Germans opened a very accurate fire with heavy guns on the
road on which they were working that he was able ·to withdraw them
in perfect order and steadiness. At about the same time, Lance–
Corporal
E.
J.
Foreman, Privates M. Bergin,
J.
Horridge and E.
Leech won the Military Medal, and Leech a bar to it, for bravery in
attending to wounded under very heavy shelling. In November,
Serjeant C. Hickinbotham and Corporal W. Jones were awarded
the Military Medal for gallant devotion to duty: ordered to complete
their tasks at all costs, they stuck to them under severe and accurate
shell fire until compelled to desist. Towards the end of the month, a
wireless station in the battalion area was blown in by shells:
Second-Lieutenant D. M. Macfarlane promptly organized a rescue
party under Corporal G. Hird from his platoon, which was in nearby
dug-outs; and in spite of heavy shelling they succeeded in digging
out six wounded men of the wireless detachment from the concrete
debris and getting them safely back to a dressing station. Macfarlane
was awarded the Military Cross and Hird the Military Medal.