Page 310 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

number of which seemed to have been placed in forward positions as
an attack had been expected, did much damage. The British
barrage began at 2.3 a.m., as arranged, but it was not able to silence
the enemy fire. "A" Company, keeping in touch with the 17th
Highland Light Infantry on its right, soon felt the force of it.
Before long all the officers and senior N.C.Os. had been killed or
wounded. The survivors struggled on, but suffered greatly and
became very scattered, only about twenty N.C.Os. and men
remaining in any organized form. "B" and "C" Companies met with
less opposition and were soon in their appointed places guarding the
left flank. Two platoons of "D" Company under Second-Lieutenants
J. Hurst and J. Pollitt were sent forward to help "A" Company and
eventually succeeded in filling the gap which had occurred and in
establishing themselves firmly on the objective. Scrivener and his
batman, Private
H. Poole, showed the greatest gallantry; they
attacked and captured a "pill-box" containing a machine gun. Just
afterwards Scrivener was killed as he neared his objective. Soon after
5 a.m. the battalion had gained the whole of its share of the "Red
Line" and was busily engaged in consolidating it.
Things had not gone so well on the right . The 17th Highland
Light Infantry had been held up by the German machine-gun fire
and there was a risk of a dangerous gap occurring between the 15th
Lancashire Fusiliers and the nth Border Regiment, who stood
next in order beyond the Highland Light Infantry. At 5.30 a.m.
orders were issued by the brigadier that the units on each side of the
gap should work inwards and try to join hands across it. This
proved to be impossible owing to continued machine-gun fire; and
by 11.15 a.m. the 15th Battalion had had to bend its right flank
back somewhat, so as to establish touch with the Highland Light
Infantry and thus prevent enemy penetration. This new line was
firmly held in spite of a vigorously delivered German counter-attack
which opened at 4.10 p.m. and which succeeded in pushing back the
greater part of the brigade, by now sorely depleted, short of leaders
and very weary. But the 15th Battalion had the satisfaction of
handing over its winnings intact to the 2nd Manchester Regiment
at midnight on 3rd/4th December, having lost 2 officers and 13 other
ranks killed, 5 officers and 63 other ranks wounded and 17 men
Much individual good work had contributed to the battalion's
achievement. The Military Medal was awarded to two runners,
Privates H. V. Atkinson and G. Beardsall, for gallantry in carrying
messages throughout the operations; to Corporal]. W. Horton for
bringing back a wounded officer and later organizing the supply of
rations; and to Private
H. Poole for his splendid work described
above . A signaller, Private A. Bradburn, received the Belgian
Croix de Guerre for repairing wires under fire during this action.