Page 360 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE GERMAN ATTACKS IN THE NORTH AND ON THE AISNE
327
but had on it blue-pencilled arrows penetrating into the British
line north-west of Givenchy and turning north-west behind the
position held by the Portuguese who lay on the immediate left of
the 55th Division.
The new attack was launched on a front of sixteen and a half
miles extending from near Armentieres in the north to the
La
Bassee Canal in the south. It began on 9th April, I9I8-in a thick
mist as in the case of its great predecessor of 2Ist March-and was
made by eight German divisions in the front line and six
in
the
second line, all of them fresh and none of them having taken part in
the March battle. It continued until 30th April, having in its
progress penetrated the Allied lines to a maximum depth of over
eleven miles and extended northwards to Ypres. The operations are
known collectively as the Battle of the Lys, and five battalions of the
Regiment took part in them.
THE DEFENCE OF GIVENCHY, 9TH APRIL, 1918
2nd/5th Battalion
ULYS," "ESTAIRBS"
The 2nd/5th Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel G. S. Brighten,
2ND/5TH
D.S.O.) moved from the Cambrai district to a training area at
BN.
Coyecque, ten miles west of Aire, in December, I9I7, and on I4th
February, I9I8, relieved the Ist/7th Battalion south of the
La
Bassee Canal. It was not until I7th March that it began its first
tour of duty in the Givenchy sector, just north of the canal, which
it was to know so well for the next six months. The village of
Givenchy stands on a slight rise, giving observation
in
every
direction and particularly towards the west. Its retention was
therefore of the very highest importance to the defence of the British
line on a wide frontage. Its defences were strong and consisted of a
well-made forward trench-line, lightly held and backed by a series
of support and reserve lines with "switches"-all designed for the
protracted defence of the essential points, which were called "keeps."
The defence scheme provided for the holding of the "keeps" at all
costs and for a number of companies and platoons disposed behind
them so as to be able to counter-attack speedily in aid of any "keep"
which might be surrounded.
On 7th April the 2nd/5th Battalion was relieved in the front line
and went into support and reserve, with
"A"
(Captain W. H. Wild,
M.C.),
"c"
(Captain
K.
T. Blarney, M.C.) and "D" (Captain
J.
R.
Bodington, M.C.) Companies under the second-in-command, Major
P. S. Cookson, in a support system known as the Village Line which
ran along the Cambrin-Festubert road just north of the canal, and
"B" Company (Captain W. C. Wilkinson) and battalion headquarters
in
reserve at Gorre.
The German barrage opened so furiously at 4.I5 a.m. on 9th
April with guns of all calibres and generous doses of gas, especially