Page 352 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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"MARCH,
19I5"
The battalion was greatly cheered by the welcome arrival of the
quartermaster (Lieutenant-Colonel W. Bowes, D.S.O.), and the
transport officer (Lieutenant A.
R.
Topping) ,'lTith rations which
included hot soup and an issue of rum.
Unfortunately, things had not gone so well farther south and
the nth Brigade had been forced to fall back slightly.
It
was
obviously impossible for the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers to maintain its
position with its right flank uncovered. Orders were therefore issued
for its line to be swung back to conform \'ITith that of the nth
Brigade. At about midnight the battalion took up its new position
with its "B" Company and "C" Company of the King's Own on the
right in Hudson Alley and Stoke Trench, which ran southwards at
right-angles from it; "D" Company in Tripoli Trench, which
continued Stoke Trench to the north and finally joined Trent
Trench; and "C" Company, with about fifty survivors of the
Essex Regiment, in Trent Trench. In effect, the battalion had
pivoted on its left flank, and on the extreme right had had to
fall back about
1,000
yards. This adjustment was effected \'ITithout
loss. Blocks were established at all points at which the enemy
could enter the new position; but they were completed only
just before dawn. The battalion, \'ITith its attached details, had
now become the front-line unit. All ranks were thoroughly exhausted
and fully expected a further attack; but they awaited it with
confidence and a determination to fight to the last-indeed, all
secret papers were destroyed in readiness for the worst. A large–
scale attack did not, however, materialize, though the enemy
delivered a determined bombing attack at dawn on 29th on the
position held by "B" Company
in
Hudson Alley. Thanks largely
to Howarth's energy, it was unsuccessful, and a prisoner of the
IS9th Reserve Infantry Regiment and a machine gun were captured.
A similar attack against "D" Company also cost the Germans a
machine gun.
At 9 a.m. bombing attacks of a much heavier nature came
simultaneously from Hussar Trench, Hyderabad Trench and Troy
Trench, which ran behind and parallel to Hyderabad. These lasted
till noon and were difficult to stop o\'lTing to the acute shortage of
bombs which had arisen. Nevertheless, Howarth's "B" Company,
with "C" Company and the attached company of the King's Own,
kept the enemy at bay. Lance-Corporal H. Airey, of "C," was of
great help in breaking up one such attack. He fired his Lewis gun
from a shell hole for a long time. Once it jammed, but he put it
right with the utmost coolness and resumed rapid fire just as a
party of the p.nemy were coming close upon him. Corporal G.
L.
Clayton, of the same company, led a bombing party and fearlessly
beat back a party of Germans, after which he held a block with two
other men for three hours. Finally Howarth gave the artillery
the map reference of the junction of Hussar Alley and Hyderabad
Trench and, at a prearranged time, \'ITithdrew his men for about ten
minutes while the IS-pounders gave the Germans a good hammering.