Page 376 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE GERMAN ATTACKS IN THE NORTH AND ON THE AISNE
343
situation, which was successfully done. Six prisoners fell into the
battalion's hands during this episode.
At 2 a.m. on 21St April, Second-Lieutenant E.
J.
V. Hemelryk
took five men out as a reconnoitring patrol along a track leading
from the battalion's line and near the River Clarence. After going
some way he saw an enemy sentry. The party rushed the latter and
found a machine gun and a post consisting of nine Germans, of
whom they killed five and took the remainder prisoners, bringing
them back with the
gun.
After some local reliefs and in spite of shelling which was at
times heavy, the battalion enjoyed two further days of comparative
quiet before contributing its share to an attack on 23rd April designed
to straighten out the line north of Riez du Vinage. On the previous
evening some reshuffling of companies and their dispositions was
carried out and it was necessary to withdraw
"c"
Company from
the hamlet while the opening barrage was being fired. The troops
detailed from the 2nd Battalion comprised "D" Company under
Lieutenant N. D. Evans and a platoon of
"A"
Company com–
manded by Second-Lieutenant H. Taylor.
"c"
Company was to
give support. The artillery opened their barrage at 4.30 a.m. and
soon afterwards the attacking party advanced from their assembly
position north-west of Riez du Vinage. Good progress was made
and at 2.30 a.m. Lieutenant-Colonel Watkins received reports that
the objective, the line of the road connecting Mont Bernenchon
with Calonne-sur-Ia-Lys near la Pierre-au-Beure, had been reached.
But "D" Company lost both its officers in crossing the Courant de
Hennebecq, a stream flowing into the River Clarence; the men lost
direction, and, in their enthusiasm, overshot the objective, went
to the farther end of La Pierre-au-Beure and, while keeping in close
touch with the main attacking force of the 2nd/5th Gloucestershire
Regiment on the left as ordered, left a gap of some five hundred
yards between themselves and "B" Company, who were holding the
original line on the right. Second-Lieutenant T.
R.
Warn was sent
from "B" to take over "D" and to adjust the line, but he was
wounded on his way across. Second-Lieutenant W. F. Lilley, M.M.,
of
"A"
Company was then sent forward and succeeded in sending a
situation map back to battalion headquarters.
"c"
Company were
ordered to send a patrol out to get touch with "D" Company but
Second-Lieutenant E. ]. V. Hemelryk was killed in the first attempt,
Second-Lieutenant W. S. Gilbert wounded in a second and Second–
Lieutenant H. Chilton killed in a third and last effort. Fortunately,
the situation appeared to be as obscure to the Germans as it was to
the British. For they indiscriminately shelled the position where
the latter should have been and destroyed one of their own machine–
gun posts which was holding out
in
the gap between the two parts
of the line.
It
was eventually decided to withdraw the remnants of
"D" Company after dark to a position about three hundred yards
short of the objective. In preparation for this movement, Second–
Lieutenant W. H. Riley went forward four times through heavy