Page 333 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
19I4-1918
welcome dump of rations was found by the side of the road at
Courcelette and the troops were given breakfast before they again
marched off through Pozieres to a position between Contalmaison
and Fricourt. Late in the afternoon of 25th March, in view of the
withdrawal of the 47th Division from Mametz Wood, the battalion
occupied a line round the north-eastern outskirts of Mametz,
where, after sending out patrols towards Montauban, it spent a
quiet night until 3 a.m. on 26th, when it once more took to the road
and moved through Meaulte and Dernancourt to Henencourt. The
march was uneventful except in the case of "D" Company (Captain
J.
B. Wood) on the right, which was not covered by the rear guard
and was cut off. The battalion arrived at Henencourt at 10 a.m.
and rested till 5 p.m., when it moved to Senlis. Its stay here,
however, was very short as it moved with the remainder of the
brigade at 7.30 p.m. to a position just east of Millencourt in
readiness to support the 9th Division if necessary in holding up
German forces which were reported to have crossed the Ancre and
to be advancing. Their services were not, however, required and the
battalion was back in billets at Henencourt by 5 a.m. on 27th
March. At 10 a.m. that day the battalion was again ordered to take
up its position of the previous night as the enemy were believed to be
heavily attacking the 9th Division. It reached its allotted post by
2
p.m. and was heavily shelled during the afternoon. At about
3.30 p.m. a message was received to the effect that the Germans had
broken through between Lavieville and Ribemont-sur-l'Ancre, to
the right rear of the position held by the battalion, which was
ordered to swing round and face south. The report proved to be
false and the line to be intact, so that at 5 p.m. the battalion was
ordered to return to Henencourt, where it spent a quiet night and
two restful days on 28th and 29th March. At 8 p.m. on the latter
day the battalion took over a sector of the front line just west of
Albert. The 30th was quiet and uneventful, but at 5.30 a.m. on
31st March the battalion co-operated in an attack by a brigade on
its left to the extent of making a "Chinese" attack, that is, firing
Lewis guns and rifles. During the afternoon of that day an enemy
party about thirty strong advanced and entered a copse opposite
"A" Company (Captain D.
L.
Waghorn, D.C.M.) from which the
whole of the position was commanded. Waghorn promptly organized
a counter-attack and,
in
spite of heavy machine-gun and trench–
mortar fire, drove them out, killing six and capturing a machine
gun.
The battalion was relieved on 2nd April and marched to billets at
Warloy Baillon. The casualties during the retreat had been 2
officers and 23 other ranks killed, 3 officers and II7 other ranks
wounded, and
2
officers and 87 other ranks missing. Lieutenant–
Colonel G.
L.
Torrens, D.S.O., was awarded a bar to his decoration
for his skilful handling of the rear guard throughout the operation,
and Captain D.
L.
Waghorn, D.e.M., was awarded the Military
Cross. Other decorations awarded included the Military Medal to
Private F. Keough.