Page 351 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
he mowed the Germans down time after time. Once they were only
twenty yards from his post and he was surrounded; but, quite
undaunted, he kept up such a devastating fire that they were
completely driven away from that part of the front. Company
Serjeant-Major ]. Baines, of "D," rendered valuable help at this
stage. One of the platoon commanders was wounded; whereupon
Baines took command, rallied the men and drove the enemy back.
His initiative and courageous example contributed greatly to the
stand made by the company. The battalion had been told that it was
not to yield an inch; and officers and men could be seen lying on
the parapet of the trenches shooting down Germans as fast as they
could handle their ri1les. A few of the enemy got into the trenches
at one or two points, but they were quickly dealt with by the
bayonet. Some succeeded in getting into an old redoubt close to
Hyderabad Trench; but after a stiff fight they too were driven out.
leaving many dead and several machine guns. Blocks were erected
in the trenches on the flanks of the battalion's position and by 12
noon the line had been firmly consolidated in Hyderabad and
Trent Trenches. Then, and not till then, did Lieutenant-Colonel
Watkins, who had spent the morning in the forward positions, co–
ordinating the defence and encouraging all ranks by his cheerfulness,
go back to battalion headquarters and send through to the brigadier
the most reassuring and accurate information which had yet reached
him.
During the afternoon the
IQ
per cent. reserves left behind by
each unit of the division were formed into a provisional battalion
and sent up to support the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, together with
another improvised unit, consisting of the pioneer battalion, the
three field companies and other personnel, under the Commander
of the Royal Engineers of the division. But their services were not
needed, although "B" Company had a hard struggle after dusk to
retain its hold on Hyderabad Trench. Touch was lost with the IIth
Infantry Brigade on the right (commanded by Brigadier-General
T. S. H. Wade, D.S.O., a former commanding officer of the 10th
Battalion), owing to the persistent attempts of the enemy to force
a way along Clyde Avenue, a communication trench which led into
the extreme right of Hyderabad. Second-Lieutenant W. F. Lilley,
M.M., led a patrol to gain touch with the unit on the right and
found the Germans already established in Havana Trench, which
was a continuation of Hyderabad Trench to the south-east. The
company commander, Howarth, reported this through "C"
Company's telephone and got a message from Lieutenant-Colonel
Watkins-"Hang on, you are doing splendidly." Howarth himself
led parties to the threatened flank and' succeeded in gaining touch
with a company of the 1st Rifle Brigade which General Wade had
sent to
fill
the gap as soon as he learnt of it. Touch was never again
lost. Howarth was greatly helped by his company serjeant-major.
E. A. North, who kept up a constant supply of bombs and set a
most encouraging example of coolness to all ranks.