Page 362 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE GERMAN ATTACKS IN THE NORTH AND ON THE AISNE
329
position, Bodington made a reconnaissance of the surrounding area
and was bombed by some Germans. He promptly made a slight
change in his dispositions which succeeded in checking their advance.
Second-Lieutenant
R.
S. Mowle formed a bombing party from the
remnants of his platoon, which had suffered many casualties, and
after strenuous bombing rushed the enemy with the bayonet ,
capturing thirty prisoners. Much attention had been paid to
training all ranks to maintain the chain of command and to be
ready to step promptly into the shoes of any senior who became a
casualty. The results were evident near Windy Corner on 9th April.
For instance, Private G. E. Brookes of "D" Company took command
of a Lewis-gun team when the section commander was killed and
pushed the gun up to within ten yards of the enemy, maintaining
a steady fire at point-blank range. While the enemy was thus held
another party worked round behind them and captured them. At
about the same time, Private H. Wareing was making his way
forward with a party of reinforcements in face of very heavy machine–
gun
fire. After three unsuccessful attempts to lead his men to their
destination, he crawled across the open to within bombing distance
of the machine-gun post and bombed it. This action threw the
enemy into confusion and enabled another party which had made its
way skilfully to their rear to capture them. These and similar
incidents, directed by Bodington, completely stopped the enemy's
advance through the gap between the two brigades and moreover
resulted in the capture of several hundred prisoners, including the
regimental commander and staff and the band previously mentioned.
In the meanwhile, "B" Company, which had moved on the word
"Bustle" from Gorre to an intermediate line, was ordered forward.
It
had no sooner emerged from the wood in which that line ran and
was still nearly half a mile west of Windy Corner when it met a body
of Germans who fired at it and forced it to deploy. Wilkinson, the
company commander, and his second-in-command had both been
killed; but Second-Lieutenant D. Marshall assumed command and
promptly attacked the Germans across the open, drove them back
and, following them up, was able to thrust them out of the gap
through which they had come and which he now filled. Lieutenant–
Colonel Brighten sent two of "B" Company's platoons to the help
of the Ist/4th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. These worked
up Grenadier Road and Hitchin Avenue, two communication
trenches leading north-east and east from Windy Corner, and cut
off large parties of Germans, who surrendered. They then took up a
position in New Cut Extension, a switch line farther north and a
little to the east of
Le
Plantin, and in the old British line in that
area. This was a mistake, probably due to some senior officer of
another regiment, aware of the danger from the left, diverting them
from their proper task. At I1.30 a.m. these platoons were ordered
back to Windy Corner, where they arrived at about I2.30 p .m. and
helped to strengthen the defensive flank there. This reinforcement
was timely, as "A" Company had become so weak through casualties