Page 372 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE GERMAN ATTACKS IN THE NORTH AND ON THE AISNE
339
position which the battalion was called upon to make. At about
5.30 p.m. the brigade was ordered to step back into support on a line
running from Vieux Berquin to Labis Fann, which lies at a bend in
the Merris-Vieux Berquin road. The orders for this withdrawal never
reached Captain G. S. Lockwood, M.C., who with eighteen men and
two Lewis guns was on the extreme right of the line. He found at
dusk that the Germans were on both his flanks and also in a cemetery
not a hundred yards away in front. But as he had had no orders to
move, he detennined to hold on; and he did so, keeping the enemy
back and inflicting heavy losses on him until the supply of ammuni–
tion was exhausted. He then came to the conclusion that no other
course was open to him but to withdraw: and he proceeded most
skilfully to extricate his whole party, including several wounded
men and both his guns, and lead them back to the battalion's new
position, which he frnally reached just before dawn on 13th April.
Throughout these operations, Lockwood perfonned invaluable work
in rallying and encouraging the men. In the meanwhile the rest of
the battalion had withdrawn successfully, thanks largely to Regi–
mental Serjeant-Major W. Lund, who helped to secure the orderly
carrying out of the movement and was one of the last to leave. He
was another of those who, during those critical days, set a fine
example of coolness by the way in which he moved about, regardless
of danger under heavy fire, reorganizing and heartening the men.
By 8 p.m. the bulk of the remnants of the battalion, now some 150
men, was in its new position, with headquarters in Vieux Berquin, and
set to work to dig strong points. The night was quiet.
But the next day, 13th April, was far otherwise. The Gennans
attacked repeatedly and succeeded in enfilading the new line from
the left. All day fighting went on; and during the afternoon a
general tendency to withdraw spread from divisions on the left and
involved elements of the battalion who were under the impression
that orders to that effect had been given. As soon as Lieutenant–
Colonel Modera became aware of what was happening, he collected
all the men concerned and led them back to their original position of
the night before. And it was this position, held throughout the day,
which the battalion evacuated at II .30 p.m. that night, on the
orders of the Divisional Commander, when both its flanks were in
the air.
It
withdrew behind a position newly established by the
Australians and moved to St. Sylvestre Cappel, where it was joined
during the 14th by many small parties of men who had become
detached in the confusion and had fought with other battalions,
and by the battle reserve of 10 per cent. This latter party had been
left under Major T. Slingsby, M.C., in a camp at St. Jan ter Biezen,
where it stayed for several days before being rushed forward by
light railway and route march, in company with several parties which
were combined into a composite battalion, to a position of readiness
near Caestre behind another division.
It
was never actually called
upon and ·withdrew on 14th April. Even with these welcome
additions, the 29th Division had been so weakened that its two