Page 339 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
I9I4-I9I8
stage he went forward and carried in, under heavy fire, one of his
platoon commanders who was severely wounded and who would
otherwise have fallen into the enemy's hands. Lieutenant
H.
G.
Leaver, of the same battalion, once more showed great courage under
heavy fire and was instrumental in holding a very important point
in the line. Second-Lieutenant H. Lewis of the I8th was also very
plucky in dealing with part of the attack; he fired a Lewis gun
himself and then led a bombing attack, being seriously wounded
later in the day.
Instructions had been issued that the troops were not to be
allowed to get heavily involved and orders were therefore issued in
the afternoon for a further withdrawal. In the early stages of this
",,'ithdrawal the I8th Battalion was nearly cut off in the Bois des
Tailles, two and a half miles west of Bray, and was only rescued by
the fire of the I7th Battalion and other units. Thereafter the
retirement was carried out in the most methodical manner, units
"leapfrogging" through each other in turn in spite ofheavy artillery
and machine-gun fire and fighting their way slowly back to Mor–
lancourt.
It
had been hoped that a rest would have been possible
here, as another brigade had taken over the duties of rear guard.
But a message arrived to the effect that the Germans were already
pressing that brigade and might enter the village at any moment.
The tired troops therefore moved on once more and put the River
Ancre between themselves and the enemy as soon as possible. By
the evening a new position had been firmly established, with the
I7th Battalion on the right at Ribemont-sur-l'Ancre, the I9th
Durham Light Infantry in the centre with elements on the high
ground on the south side of the river near Treux, and the I8th
Battalion on the left on the outskirts of Buire. The latter unit had
suffered heavy casualties during the day, losing 2 officers and 29
other ranks killed, 3 officers and I28 other ranks wounded and I
officer and 84 men missing.
It
therefore held its line with "X" and
"Y" Companies on the bank of the river, and the amalgamated
"Z" and "W" Companies in support.
That evening General Sandilands returned from leave, having
commandeered a canteen van in order to complete his journey the
quicker, and Lieutenant-Colonel
L.
M. Stevens resumed command
of the I8th Battalion. The next day, 27th, was comparatively
quiet; but at about
IO
a.m. German scouts were seen coming over
the skyline across the Bray-Corbie road, followed by small parties
and then by extended lines of men. Soon after, they advanced in
force through Morlancourt against Dernancourt, to the left of the
I8th Battalion, which helped by its fire to break up the attack. The
night of 27th/28th March was quiet but marred by heavy rain. The
28th was more eventful. Several attacks were launched against the
British line on the Ancre, of which one, delivered at about 9.30 a.m.,
involved the I8th Battalion.
It
was, however, soon repulsed.
Second-Lieutenant H. Redfearn, of this battalion, who was in
command of several detached posts, was not content to drive the