Page 316 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE EARLY WEEKS OF
1918
command of Captain
J.
F . Johnson. The parties formed up without
difficulty close to the support trenches and advanced at
II
p.m.
under cover of a barrage fired by artillery, mortars and machine
guns. No.
I
Party advanced in its groups up the road, keeping close
to the barrage. With it went two men of the Royal Engineers who
successfully used Bangalore torpedoes to complete the wire-cutting
which Bennett and Blackledge had begun. The party then advanced
to Renard Farm with ease, searched the whole area round it, did
much damage, killed many Germans and took fifteen prisoners,
including a wounded officer who died before he could be moved.
Much of the success of this party was due to Cantwell's careful
preparation and thorough previous reconnaissance, as well as to his
cool control of the progress of events during the raid. Blackledge
ably seconded
him
and, when his wire-cutting duties were ended,
took command of three of the groups into which No.
I
Party was
divided and led them to their destination. In the meanwhile No. 2
Party had also advanced up the road without difficulty, but when
they came to the cross-roads where they had to bear to the left and
had got through the enemy's wire they encountered a German post
where there were several dead and badly wounded men. One
unwounded German was taken prisoner. Lines pushed on and,
entering the edge of the Forest, attacked a post about two hundred
yards farther on which comprised about nine Germans. Lines
himself shot three men and took one prisoner, while Second–
Lieutenant
J.
McClymont shot an officer and a man and also took a
prisoner. The Germans fought stubbornly, but they appeared to
have been taken by surprise, largely owing to the fact that the
raiders had followed the barrage so closely. The remaining party
was not so successful. Through keenness it moved too close to the
barrage and after advancing about a hundred yards became dis–
organized owing to the heavy shell fire and was unable to reach its
objective. But the rest of the operation had been a complete
success and cost the two battalions only two officers and twenty
other ranks wounded, none of them seriously. Captain A. W.
Cantwell, M.C., received a bar to his Military Cross for his share in
the raid; Second-Lieutenants
J.
W. Bennett, T. Lines, D.C.M., and
J.
McClymont were awarded the Military Cross; and Serjeant J.
Blackledge, M.M., received the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Military Medals were awarded to Serjeants
J.
Ford and
J.
D. Wade,
Corporal F. Newton and Privates
J.
Boschi and
J.
Gallagher, of the
15th Battalion; and to Corporal H. Harris, Lance-Corporal
J.
W.
Sutherington and Privates
J.
W. Pickup, W. Suthers and
L.
Tite,
of the 16th Battalion.
The same battalions also took a minor part in a raid in the same
area on 27th February carried out by the 2nd Manchester Regiment.
During the operation
HA"
Company of the 16th Battalion, under
16TH
BM.
Captain F. F. Waugh, searched Owls Wood, on the outskirts of
Houthulst Forest, thoroughly by means of four patrols, each
consisting of an officer and a platoon. They found many empty