Page 37 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
progress was slow. After the battalion had advanced about three–
quarters of a mile, the Germans became aware of its presence and
opened fire.
As
it was getting late and the wood was becoming almost
impenetrable, Major Griffin decided to deploy in the open. "A"
(Woodman) and "D" (Fulton) Companies went to the left, while
"c"
(Blencow.e) and "B" (Evatt) Companies held the right edge of
the wood facing the German trenches. A party of "B" Company,
under Second-Lieutenant
J.
S. Paulson, tried to charge the enemy
lines across a turnip field, but was stopped by rifle and machine-gun
fire from entrenched positions south of Chivres village and from the
western slopes of Chivres spur, and had to rush to cover behind a
bank. All but three men were hit. Paulson was severely wounded
and, although he was gallantly brought in by Company-Quarter–
master-Serjeant Martin and Company-Serjeant-Major (later Captain)
C.
Gregory, died that night. In the meanwhile, "A" and "D"
Companies had come under heavy fire as soon as they emerged from
the wood, but in spite of casualties pressed on till they reached the
cover of a bank some two hundred yards further on, beyond which
it was impossible to move. Lieutenant C. E. Stuart with a few men
made an attempt, but he was killed and they were also knocked out.
At about this time, the Commanding Officer, Major C.
J.
Griffin, was
wounded in the hand by a machine-gun bullet while on a visit to "A"
Company's position; and on moving away to visit Evatt and Blen–
cowe he was caught in the leg by a sniper and forced to abandon his
intention. During the afternoon Lieutenant
J.
S. Fulton and Second–
Lieutenant
J.
W. Evatt were also wounded, the latter being trampled
on as he lay in the open by a party of Germans who moved forward a
short distance from their lines at about dusk but fortunately did
not notice him.
In spite of fire from within the battalion, of the sending of a
company of Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in support, and of rifle and
machine-gun fire from the 2nd Essex Regiment, the battalion could
make no further advance. It succeeded, however, in maintaining its
position although losses continued. As the battalion's War Diary
proudly noted, it was some consolation to think that, three weeks
later when the British Expeditionary Force left the Aisne, no
troops had got so far forward as the 2nd Battalion did that evening;
a view which is endorsed by the Official Historian, who says,
"It
was
long before any troops of the Allies approached nearer than the
Lancashire men had to the commanding promontory of Chivres."
The cost had been 2 officers and
14
other ranks killed or died of
wounds, 3 officers and 53 other ranks wounded and
I
officer (Second–
Lieutenant G. F. Page) and 83 other ranks missing, of whom the
officer and 71 other ranks rejoined
within
a few days.
The battalion was relieved after dark by the 2nd Manchester
Regiment of the 5th Division. Naturally, as the result of moving
through woods and fighting for some hours, a good deal of confusion
had occurred and parties became separated from their own companies
and even from their battalion. As is shown by the figures of missing,