Page 308 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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Equally unlucky was the IOth Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel
Torrens, D.s.O.) in its last tour of duty near Millers Houses ,
close to Poelcappelle and the meeting point of the 1st and 2nd
Battalions on 9th October. Late on 29th November, Lieutenant
H. ] obling took out a fighting patrol consisting of Second–
Lieutenant W. G. Bell and fourteen men of "B" Company (Captain
Waghorn, D.C.M.) with the object of getting a prisoner. The
party had to negotiate many shell holes filled with water. But it
had very nearly succeeded in its mission of penetrating the enemy's
forward defences when fire was opened. ] obling was killed and Bell
wounded and taken prisoner; several men were hit. The patrol
was split up. A lively fight followed, but the party was forced to
withdraw, some of its members not returning till after dawn and
then utterly exhausted and soaked to the skin from lying on the wet
ground. For their conduct on this occasion, particularly when the
party had been deprived of its leaders, Military Medals were awarded
to Corporal
Dainty, Corporal]. Smith and Private ]. Carter.
15th Battalion
has been difficult to find any reason why the operation which
is about to be described ever took place. As has been noted, the
Third Battle of Ypres came to an official end on loth November,
1917. The Commander-in-Chief in his despatch stated that
such minor enterprises were undertaken by the British forces during
the winter months as were essential to keep us informed regarding
the dispositions and intentions of the German forces opposed to us.
Special attention was directed to disposing our forces in such manner
as would best promote economy in men and reduce casualties."
Nevertheless the 32nd Division was informed early in November
that it would move into the line near Bellevue, one mile west of
Passchendaele, and would be required to attack northwards towards
Westroosebeke in order to improve the position in that area. The
sector from which the assault was to be launched was taken over on
24th November and was found to consist mainly of mud which was
impassable except over duckboard tracks. Such of these as existed.
were not long enough to enable preparations for an attack to be made
and they had to be extended and supplemented by the RoyalEngineers.
The area which had to be used for assembly before the assault was
in full view of the enemy and could only be approached in the hours
of darkness. This made it necessary that the operation should take
place by night or at dawn. As so many attacks had just previously
taken place at dawn, the Divisional Commander, Major-General
C. D. Shute,
C.M.G., decided to aim at surprise through a
night operation. Even with the additional tracks which were made,
the approach march was difficult as about seven miles had to be
covered in single file and darkness along routes which had been