Page 34 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE MARNE AND THE AISNE
21
climbing up towards them, each side ignorant of the other's presence.
Finally the Fusiliers were high enough to spot them and fire . A
platoon, commanded by Serjeant W. W. Ganly, concealed itself
in
a wood close to the road and, by withholding its fire till the last
moment, severely punished a party of 12 Uhlans riding along it, 1
being killed , 3 wounded and 6 taken prisoner. One of the latter, on
being brought to battalion headquarters for searching, presented
himself with the words, "Well, sir, thank God this
war's
over" : he turned out to have been a London bus driver. Unfortu–
nately, "A" Company, advancing up to the top of the ridge at dusk,
were reported to a battery as being Germans retiring off it; and two
of the company were wounded and one of the prisoners killed.
In the meanwhile, the rest of the battalion and the transport had
moved up the eastern side of the spur running north between
Luzancy and Chamigny in the loop of the river previously mentioned,
and crossed the Marne by the railway viaduct which carries the
main line from Paris to Chateau-Thierry, Chalons-sur-Marne and
southern Germany. I t was no easy task to get the horses and
vehicles over a bridge which was not designed for road traffic.
Eventually at the end of the day the whole battalion was reunited
north of Chamigny shortly after dusk and bivouacked with outposts
for the night. The next day, 10th September, the battalion stayed
in its position till midday in order to cover the crossing of the
remainder of the Division over the Marne. In the afternoon it
marched without incident through Dhuisy and Coulombs to Vaux,
where the 12th Brigade found the outposts for the 4th Division.
On IIth September, the march was continued through Mareuil-sur–
Ourcq, St. Quentin and Noroy to Chouy. On the 12th, the battalion
had a tiring day, in heavy rain and with no rations, escorting a
heavy battery and helping to haul its guns up hills; it eventually
arrived at II p .m. at a farm about a mile south of Septmonts, which
lies within three miles of the River Aisne .
THE BATTLE OF THE AISNE
It
is now widely recognized that, if the remainder of the British
Expeditionary Force had acted on 13th September, 1914, as vigor–
ously and with the same enterprise as did the 4th Division and its
units, the result of the Battle of the Aisne might have been much
more satisfactory and the whole history of the war drastically
changed to our advantage. At all events, the left of the British line,
which included the 2nd Battalion, had no cause for remorse, but very
much the reverse, in its actions on that day.
Just east of Soissons, the River Aisne is unfordable and between
sixty and seventy yards wide and flows peacefully from side to side
of a flat, very open valley varying in width from one mile to nearly
two miles. The sides of the valley rise steeply and are much broken
up with spurs running towards the river, but with this important
difference between them: that whereas the heights on the northern
side are heavily wooded and provided the Germans with good