Page 329 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
wounded four times, being eventually knocked unconscious by a
wound in the head and taken prisoner. The position in the sunken
road proved to be untenable owing to the machine guns in Demuin
and the retirement had to be continued, Major Chesney being
wounded at about this time. However, by about 2 p.m. the Force
had established itself on the Hangard-Villers Bretonneux road.
The enemy did not follow up very rapidly; and when it trans–
pired that the formation on the left were still in their original
position, Brigadier-General G.
C.
Williams, D.S.O., commanding
the 198th Infantry Brigade, who happened to be on the spot,
decided at about 3 p.m. to counter-attack with the help of some
cavalry so as to re-establish the Amiens defences at Demuin and to
protect the right flank of their neighbours at Marcelcave . The
counter-attack, delivered in pouring rain, made good progress for
about 2,000 yards and regained the ridge north of Demuin. In this
action, Potter showed the greatest gallantry and inspired such
confidence in his exhausted troops that they were able to make the
effort asked of them. Second-Lieutenants G.
L.
Sayer, who had fought
gallantly all through from 21st March, and A. Hollinghurst, both of
2nd/8th, were severely wounded at this time. Unfortunately, the
ridge could not be held. The German machine guns were still on the
hill
across the valley; and as there was no cover to be obtained on
the ridge from their fire, the troops were compelled to fall back. They
were, however, able to take a number of prisoners with them and,
at dusk, to occupy a position somewhat farther forward than that
from which they had begun the attack.
Early on 31st March the remnants of the 66th Division, now
in various "Forces" and composite battalions, were relieved and
moved back, first to the neighbourhood of Gentelles and later
through Saleux to Seux, eight miles west of Amiens. "At the end of
the march," says the War Diary of the 2nd/8th Battalion, "the
men were thoroughly exhausted after the strenuous events of the
last ten days, but quite happy at the thought of rest." The
survivors of the 197th Brigade were formed into a single composite
battalion, whose strength on 1st April was 22 officers and 627
other ranks, including a number of reinforcements. The casualties
during this period of nightmare had been terrible :-
Officers
Other ranks
Killed Wounded Missing
Killed Wounded Missing Total
6th Battalion
4
19
IS
20
146
4 61
665
2nd/Jth Battalion
4
12
21
28
134
4 82
68[
2nd/8th Battalion
9
25
3 0
4 6
63 2
742
Totals
8
4 0
6r
7 8
3 26
[,575 2,088
Among the many meritorious acts which it has been impossible
to assign to any particular day was the work performed by Second–
Lieutenant
R.
Shankland of the 2nd/8th Battalion, by Regimental
Serjeant-Major W. Watkins of the 6th Battalion, and by Company
Quartermaster-Serjeant A. Riding of the 2nd/8th. The first gave