Page 350 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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"MARCH, 1918"
3
1
7
numbers and had lost IS officers and about 600
m~n.
The Germans
followed up slowly, but it was soon evident that there was a risk of
their penetrating the right of the support position. Lieutenant–
Colonel Watkins therefore commandeered the services of "C"
Company (Captain T. Pritchard, M.C.) of the 1st King's Own Royal
Lancaster Regiment and placed it in Hyderabad Support Trench.
The Germans had by now re-formed and they could be clearly seen
advancing in massed formation with artillery close behind them.
Others of them made their way forward in large numbers along the
communication trenches which linked the front line with the
support system. By about 10 a.m. they had bombed their way
down a communication trench which led to the junction of Humid
Trench and Harry Trench, thus taking the exposed "A" Company
in
rear and separating it from "D" Company. A strenuous attempt
was made to eject them, but without success though they must have
suffered heavy losses.
There followed the most heroic fighting by "A" and "D"
Companies. Stange, of the latter, unable to get in touch with "A,"
hurriedly had a barricade erected in Hussar Trench and organized
a fierce resistance in which bombs and bayonets were freely used.
Such were his energy and reckless bravery that the Germans were
unable to make any further progress in this direction. Meanwhile,
Cassidy, whose "A" Company had already suffered considerable
losses and had wellnigh exhausted its supply of bombs, was
organizing his last fight. Cut off from "D" by the Germans who had
advanced past his right front, he found that large numbers of the
enemy were also coming up on his left flank. He was practically
surrounded. The only way by which he could possibly have
extricated his command would have been by leading them across
the open to Trent Trench. He moved up and down Humid Trench,
cheering his men, making arrangements for this daring movement
and supervising the defence of the ground he held. All the while he
was in touch with Lieutenant-Colonel Watkins by telephone as the
bombardment had not cut the buried cable leading from the
companies to battalion headquarters. He sent frequent reports of
the situation, until his voice was heard to say "Here they are,
right on me." Then came silence. His other two officers, Second–
Lieutenants ]. Heron and
B.
J.
B.
Butler-Bowden, fell a few
minutes later; and no more than six unwounded men of "A"
Company escaped. But their heroic self-sacrifice, inspired and
organized by Cassidy, unquestionably held up the whole German
attack at this point and saved the left flank of the 4th Division from
what might have been a disaster. This was the view of those in
authority, for it was in those terms that the posthumous award of
the Victoria Cross to this very gallant officer was announced.
The Germans made repeated bombing attacks along Hussar
Trench; but they were
all
repulsed by "B" and "D" Companies,
with the valuable help of "C" Company of the King's Own. Private
W. H . Roscoe, of "B," handled his Lewis gun with such effect that