Page 379 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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hand, the barrage was so thin that the Germans mistook it for
normal harassing fire and did not answer it. In the event, complete
surprise was at first achieved when the attack was delivered. But
fog, which supervened and which would have been a help if the
troops had known the ground and practised the operation, caused
loss of direction and a gap between the left of the leading troops of
the 74th Brigade and the outer flank of the brigade on the left. "A"
Company (Captain C. M. Newman) of the nth Battalion was there–
fore sent forward as a reinforcement and rushed a nest of machine
guns, taking twelve prisoners and two guns. Parties of the other
two battalions entered Kemmel village, but became mixed in the
house-to-house fighting which followed. Newman with his company
and men of the other units pushed right on to the road junction by
Kemmel church. Here he was wounded; whereupon Second–
Lieutenant M. D. Walker took command of the mixed detachment,
fought his way right through the village into the open country
beyond and occupied an old, dilapidated British strong-point, which
he held for over an hour against large numbers of the enemy,
inflicting heavy casualties on them. In the meanwhile, in another
part of the battle, Private A. Corlett saw that the battalion on his
right was being held up by machine guns. He took out a Lewis gun
and, although wounded as he went, he took up a position from which
he brought flanking fire to bear on the guns. He forced these to
withdraw and so enabled the attack to go on.
By 8 a.m. it was clear that Walker's detachment, although it had
been joined by a few men of another brigade, was dangerously
threatened by parties of the enemy working down from the north–
east and that it was so completely out of touch on both flanks that,
if the fog lifted, it would be surrounded or have its retreat cut off by
machine-gun fire from Mount Kemmel. Walker therefore withdrew
his mixed force along the south side of the Messines-Kemmel-La
Clytte road and rejoined the rest of the brigade which had in the
meantime also fallen back and had begun to consolidate the line of
the Kemrnelbeek, the nth Battalion being again in support at the
La Clytte crossroads. The battalion's casualties were 5 men killed,
3 officers and
other ranks wounded, and 9 men missing. The
honours awarded for these operations were:
Military Cross
Second-Lieutenant M. D. Walker.
Distinguished Condw;t Medal
Private A. Corlett.
Bar to Military Medal
J. J
Private F. Foulger.
Private A. PenniIold.
Military Medal
Private H. Lord.
Private H. Stebbings.
General Robillot, commanding the French II Cavalry Corps,
sent a very cordial message of congratulation to the troops engaged
in the fighting of these few days.