Page 332 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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"MARCH,
1918"
299
the 10th and three companies of the 12th Manchester Regiment,
under Lieutenant-Colonel S. Danby, were to begin the movement,
while the remainder of the brigade under Lieutenant-Colonel
Torrens were to form a rear guard and fall back gradually. These
orders were somewhat modified in execution. "B" and "D"
Companies and a Manchester company began the withdrawal,
covered by "A" and "C" Companies. Then the latter withdrew to
a position west of Havrincourt Wood and in their turn covered
the retirement of "B" and "D" Companies to Ruyaulcourt. A
considerable amount of fighting took place before the pursuing
enemy could be shaken .off, but by 4.30 p.m. all troops had
reached Ruyaulcourt with very few losses. The battalion adopted
artillery formation and marched to Rocquigny, where it arrived
at 7 p .m.
During the night information was received that the Germans
had reached Bus, less than two miles from Rocquigny, and were
pressing on. The units of the 52nd Brigade were therefore ordered
to occupy the "Red Line," an old system of trenches running just
to the north-east of Rocquigny. The 10th Battalion was in support
in the north-east end of the village, with one company holding an
outpost line and a picquet across the road leading to Equancourt,
patrols being sent some distance down this road. At 3.30 a.m. on
24th March, however, the whole battalion was concentrated in the
"Red Line." At 10 a.m. "C" Company was sent to
fill
up a gap
which occurred in the front of the 47th Division on the right of the
52nd Brigade. Shortly afterwards the enemy attacked, but at first
his blow did not fall on the brigade. Again the lOth had to help the
London units of the 47th Division by sending three companies to
their support. "C" Company fought valiantly to maintain its posi–
tion, but was forced back by heavy machine-gun fire, and the other
companies were no more fortunate . The withdrawal was, however,
made in good order and the battalion took up a position immediately
east of
Le
Transloy. At 4.30 p.m. orders were received to retire to
Flers. This movement was carried out under great difficulties and
close pressure from the Germans, who succeeded in cutting off some
parties, Captain A. ]. Barrow, M.C., commanding "A" Company,
being wounded and taken prisoner. Eventually, at 7 p.m., six
officers and two hundred other ranks reached Flers, the remainder
of the battalion making its way to Le Sars. A position was taken up
east of Flers and though German patrols constantly tried to approach
it they were
all
driven off. As, however, the enemy had succeeded in
making a substantial advance elsewhere and the troops at Flers
were in danger of being cut off, orders were received for yet another
withdrawal, to a line east of Martinpuich, which was reached after
midnight.
It
transpired, however, that arrangements had already
been made for a brigade of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division to hold
this position, and the loth Battalion was therefore ordered to
continue its march to Courcelette, where it found the party which
had become separated in the retirement from Le Transloy. A very