Page 315 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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Crossing and, led by Plenderleith and Smith-who rushed forward,
disposed of two Germans with his revolver and set about the rest
of the garrison with bombs-stormed a "pill-box" which lay in an
angle formed by the road and the railway, capturing in it a wounded
officer, a wounded "Aspirant," three wounded and six unwounded
men. Franks, who had been wounded in the knee shortly after
leaving the starting point but had refused to leave his men, then
withdrew the party successfully. The casualties were not heavy :
one man was missing and, in addition to Franks, twelve men were
wounded. The Military Cross was awarded to Second-Lieutenants
H. C. Franks and H. ] . Plenderleith, the Distinguished Conduct
Medal to Corporal W. T. Smith, and the Military Medal to Privates
]. McGovem, ]. O'Brien, T. O'Neill, W. H. Peverley, E. Ross and
W. H. Tordoff, in connexion with the operation.
On 16th February the 6th, 2nd/7th and 2nd/8th Battalions
2ND/7 TH
moved, with the rest of the 66th Division, to the Somme area. The
War Diary of the 2nd/8th Battalion records the departure from the
Ypres Salient with a sigh of relief which proved to be premature!
On 18th February the outskirts of Houthulst Forest were the
scene of another minor operation, carried out by the 15th (Lieu–
tenant-Colonel H. K. Utterson, D.S.O., Dorsetshire Regiment) and
16th (Lieutenant-Colonel A. Gillon, Highland Light Infantry)
Battalions, in conjunction with other units. The raid was ordered
by the divisional commander with the object of obtaining identifica–
tions and of securing machine guns and other booty and also
samples of German food. The weather was frosty and there was a
half-moon which gave enough light to enable men to avoid the many
shell holes, all of them
of icy water. At dusk Second-Lieutenant
]. W. Bennett, of the 15th Battalion, who had made careful
reconnaissances on the two previous nights, volunteered to go out
with Serjeant ]. Blackledge, M.M., and cut a path through the
wire near the objective-Renard Farm on a by-road leading through
the Forest from Langemarck northwards to Clercken. While doing
so, Bennett was wounded in the arm and the cutting of the wire had
to be completed by a party using a Bangalore torpedo. But before
he left he had succeeded in locating a German machine gun on the
flank and giving such clear information as made it possible to
arrange additional artillery fire to neutralize it. The raiding force
proper was divided into three parties. No. 1 consisted of fifty-five
N.C.Os. and men of the 15th Battalion, under Captain A. W.
Cantwell, M.C., and had Renard Farm itself as its objective.
sub-divided into seven groups, to each of which was allotted a
special task such as cutting wire, laying tapes, carrying torpedoes
and "mopping-up." No. 2 Party, consisting of thirty-two men of
the 16th Battalion, under Second-Lieutenant T. Lines, D.C.M., bad
as its objective a road junction on one flank of Renard Farm;
while No. 3 Party, of the same strength and unit, under Second–
Lieutenant M. Wright, had as its objective the corresponding road
junction on the other flank. Both these parties were under the