Page 33 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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20
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, I9I4-I918
became perverse and many are the mentions of drenching rain
during the advance which ended with stiff fighting on the north bank
of the River Aisne.
At I.30 a .m. on 6th September, the 2nd Battalion, which had by
then received some Section
<ID"
reservists, marched through Pont
Carn~
to bivouacs just north of Serris, near which a few shots were
fired at them, only to move on again in the early afternoon to
Villiers, where it was in support to the 12th Brigade watching the
valley of the Grand Morin. The advance on the 7th was in a more
easterly direction and lay through Sancy to La Haute Maison.
The shelling, fortunately harmless, of the battalion and the discovery
by patrols of the Essex Regiment of enemy in a wood near Pierre
Levee \vere indications that fighting was soon to be expected. The
next day, the 8th, passed uneventfully, however, though it was at
first expected that an attack would be necessary to clear the enemy
found by the Essex Regiment and the battalion deployed in readiness.
In the event, the 12th Brigade marched at
IO
a.m. to
J
ouarre as
advanced guard to the 4th Division, being ordered
in
the afternoon to
move to Courcelles to clear the enemy out of that hamlet. The
battalion, however, had no serious fighting and bivouacked with the
rest of the Brigade on the road at L'Hotel de Bois, a short distance
west of Courcelles.
THE CROSSING OF THE MARNE
Though the various accounts are not as conflicting as in the case
of the Battle of Le Cateau, it has not been easy to arrive at the exact
way in which the 2nd Battalion was employed on 9th September,
I914, or the precise routes by which it crossed the River Marne on
that day. But it is clear that at 6 a.m. the 12th Brigade advanced
across the Petit Morin river in order to seize the high ground in the
loop of the Marne north-east of La Ferte-sous-
J
ouarre, so that
artillery could be brought up to deal with the enemy defences of that
town. The battalion appears then to have been divided into two
parts.
One, after consultation with Lieutenant-Colonel H. M. Biddulph,
commanding 1st Riile Brigade, moved down a winding ride through
a wood at the bottom of which lay the Marne, at this point a deep,
swift-running stream about eighty yards wide, and began to cross
it at about 10 a.m., going in single file over a footbridge across a
weir and some lock gates east-south-east of Chamigny. The crossing
was covered by the machine guns of 2nd Essex Regiment and the
rifle fire of
<lA"
Company. The half-dozen Germans who were
watching the crossing were disconcerted by the sudden fire from
several angles and fled.
It
took some time to negotiate the very
narrow means of passage ; but eventually this part of the battalion
pushed forward up the rise towards the village of Chamigny and
established itself during the late evening on the Chamigny-La Ferte
road. From battalion headquarters could be seen the exciting drama
of isolated Uhlans riding along the road and the British slowly