Page 295 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
front trenches, were received at 10 a.m. And at IO.30 a.m. the long–
awaited "Advance" was heard on the bugle. The battalion moved
forward with companies and platoons in diamond formation in a
north-north-easterly direction along the western side of the Couillet
valley leading from Villers-Plouich to Marcoing and thence towards
the Bois des Nem. This advance also was carried out with great
steadiness; and, as the ground had been only slightly cut up by
shell fire and as the tanks had made many gaps in the thick wire of
the Hindenburg Line-so thick and strong that millions of pounds'
worth of shells and several weeks of bombardment would have been
needed to demolish it-the going was good and direction easily
maintained. At
II
a.m. the battalion crossed the Hindenburg Line
and at II.30 a.m. the Hindenburg Support Line. As it passed
Ribecourt, tanks could be seen engaged on the fringe of a wood to the
north of the village and the German machine-gun and rifle fire which
was coming from that quarter was soon extinguished. When"A"
Company, in the van of the battalion, reached the western outskirts
of Marcoing, barely a shot was to be heard.
"B" and "D" Companies at once set about their t ask of searching
and clearing the village, while "C" Company were sent to help the
King's Own Scottish Borderers in a similar duty. "B" and "D"
met but little opposition, though they had to dispose of a number of
Germans whom they found in the streets and in the· houses. Some
idea can be gained of the extent of the surprise of which the enemy
were victims from the fact that Captain T. Newton, M.C., dis–
covered two Germans sitting at a table drinking. As their reply to
his call to surrender was a dive for their rifles which were leaning
against the wall, he summarily ended their activities with his
revolver. Meanwhile, Private D. Doherty, one of the battalion
scouts, had seen a German machine gun open fire on the right of the
village. He worked his way towards it and rushed it single-handed,
killing four of the crew and seizing the gun. His courageous act
unquestionably saved the battalion many casualties. As soon as the
village was clear of Germans, the two companies rejoined the rest of
the battalion, which up to now had suffered its only two casualties
of the day, which were two men wounded by German snipers lying
hidden in long grass west of Marcoing and only firing when the leading
waves had passed them. The time was then I p.m.
The battalion was disposed with its headquarters, "A" and "C"
Companies on a sunken road leading west from Marcoing towards
Flesquieres, with "B" and "D" in support south of the road. This
arrangement had to be altered a little later in order to protect the
left flank of the brigade; and "D" Company dug two strong points
about one hundred and fifty yards west of the road leading to Bois
des Neuf and a third in support of them, all facing north-west, while
"B" was placed in a quarry in support of the 1st Royal Guernsey
Light Infantry. By 2.30 p.m. the task of consolidation was well
in
hand, and the rest of the day passed uneventfully, though the
battalion was able to help the 2nd Royal Fusiliers by sending up to