Page 342 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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"MARCH,
I9I8"
near Favreuil also, on the other flank. Half an hour after that "D"
Company (Captain A. B. Sackett, M.C.) of the Ist/Sth reported that
the
Germ~ns
were advancing over the ridge between Sapignies and
Favreuil, but out of rifle and Lewis-gun range, and were establishing
themselves in the sunken road linking them, though they were partly
hidden by a screen of smoke and gas sent over by the German
artillery all along the line of the battalion, which received little
artillery support throughout the day. By IO.S a.m. the attackers
had worked round the Ist/Sth's right flank and "D" Company had
been driven back with the loss of many casualties, including Sackett,
who was wounded. The Ist/8th were called upon to help. This
battalion had suffered considerably from the bombardment . But
Bird and Fairhurst collected all available men of the battalion
headquarters and delivered a dashing counter-attack which drove
back the leading German troops and established a position in a
trench in front of a copse to the east of Sapignies. Bird was severely
wounded: four men volunteered to carry him in and succeeded in
bringing him safely back. Captain G. W. Sutton then assumed
command of the battalion. At about IO.SO a.m. the enemy advanced
in mass against the centre of the Ist/Sth, held by "B" Company
(Lieutenant S. North) whose posts held their ground, Private
J. Carney doing great execution with his Lewis
gun
which he brought
up to a critical point. Company Serjeant-Major F. W. Calvert also
helped to save the situation by directing the fire of his company
headquarters on a German machine gun which had worked round to
his right rear and silencing it . (Later he went forward under heavy
fire and picked off snipers who were creeping up to his company's
positions.)
An
appeal for artillery support had however to be made.
Shortly after, Lieutenant-Colonel Holberton went forward to see the
situation for himself, taking with him Second-Lieutenant E. W. Rose,
of the Ist/8th, in case the latter was needed to contribute to a further
counter-attack. While he was away, his adjutant (Captain
E.
E.
Jenkins, M.C.) received word from "B" Company that the Germans
were round their right flank. Jenkins scraped together such men as
he could find from his own headquarters and from the stragglers of
other regiments and, with Lieutenant
H.
R.
Waugh, the battalion
Lewis-gun officer, led them forward over the open. They ran into
heavy fire: Jenkins was killed and his little force scattered; and
though Waugh attempted to carry through the counter-attack, he was
forced to withdraw, taking with him a German machine gun as some
compensation for a slight wound and temporary stunning. In the
meanwhile, Lieutenant-Colonel Holberton, helped by Rose, had
organized another counter-attack by two companies of the Ist/8th
which he personally led forward, and, in spite of strong opposition
by the enemy who were in strength, succeeded in re-establishing the
line on the southern outskirts of Sapignies. Corporal
R.
Cowell, of
the Ist/8th, showed great skill and gallantry during this phase: he
was severely wounded but stayed with his men and, by his example
and encouragement, enabled them to hold their own.