Page 388 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE GERMAN ATTACKS IN THE NORTH A '0 ON THE AISNE
355
sible for killing a great number of the enemy; and, with only two
men to help him, he captured and brought back twelve Germans.
Second-Lieutenant
R.
S. Bauld, of the same battalion, although with
the reserve company, seeing that the situation was obscure, collected
a party of men and pushed through to the final objective, where he
established several posts before he returned to organize carrying
parties. Prisoners were coming in in considerable numbers at this
stage. Indeed, the message announcing the capture of the final
objective was entrusted to a very small German who nevertheless
delivered it correctly and smartly.
From then onwards things did not go smoothly. The high ground
to the south of the scene of the attack had not been included in the
operation, and from it came heavy machine-gun fire which caused
many casualties and made communication by runner between the
forward troops and headquarters almost impossible. Attempts to
carry on visual signalling failed as practically
all
the signallers in the
front line had been hit. Second-Lieutenant S. Greeves, M.C., the
intelligence officer of the I8th Battalion, therefore went forward on
his own initiative to find out what was happening. He arrived just
before the final objective was taken and, with four men, pushed on
and helped to secure it, capturing two prisoners and a light machine
gun on the way. He then returned and explained the situation to
another officer, who pushed on to the objective. After that he made
his way back to battalion headquarters and was able to give very
valuable information on the trend of events. Another cause of
trouble was the fact that the enemy discovered that Heathcotes
Bank was a scene of great activity and shelled it with guns which
were able to shoot at it in enfilade, making the evacuation of the
many casualties still more difficult.
Soon it was the turn of the enemy. Reinforced by a fresh
regiment, the Germans counter-attacked in force at about noon,
using bombing parties, without rifles, which approached almost
unobserved through the dense undergrowth. The small body of
troops in the wood was forced to withdraw, though not before they
had thoroughly searched all dug-outs and shelters, capturing several
machine guns. Private A. H. Bird, of the I8th, attacked and
captured a machine gun alone and later destroyed a trench mortar
with a bomb. Both battalions retired fighting. Lance-Corporal
J.
Muldowney, M.M., of the I7th, held up a strong German bombing
party for nearly an hour, throwing over a hundred bombs. In the
end he rushed the party single-handed and captured its four
survivors. Lieutenant F.
R.
Halliwell, of the I8th, took command of
his company when the captain was wounded and after maintaining
his position on the objective succeeded in extricating his men though
pressed by greatly superior numbers. A party of the I7th clung for
some time to a strong point just within the wood until they were
forced out of it by Germans bombing down a trench. The I8th used
up all their own bombs and those they had taken from the enemy;
one of their parties, under Captain F.
J.
Butler, M.C., was nearly