Page 42 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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CHAPTER IV
ARMENTIERES-
TRENCH
WARFARE-2nd
YPRES
"ARMENTlERES, 1914." "YPRES, 1915," "ST. JULIEN," " BELLEWAARDE"
(M<;Lps 3 and 4)
2nd Battalion
THE 2nd Battalion detrained at Hazebrouck at 3 a.m. on 13th
2ND BN.
October, 1914, and went into billets. At about
10
a.m., however, it
was on the move again, in a north-easterly direction through Borre.
On reaching Rouge Croix, the battalion received orders to support
the King's Own in capturing Meteren, a picturesque village perched
on the top of a small
hill
whose slopes are gradual and very open.
The attack was timed to begin at 1.30 p.m. in conjunction with the
6th Division on the right and with 2nd Essex on the left. Keeping
touch was difficult, as the day was wet and misty. By 3.30 p.m. the
King's Own had been held up, the German position (held by a
Bavarian infantry regiment and part of the 3rd Cavalry Division)
being strong and well protected by machine guns in the outlying
houses of the village. At 5.20 p.m. the 2nd Battalion began to work
round the south of Meteren, past the right of the King's Own, being
helped by artillery fire which succeeded in quietening the enemy's
fire somewhat, and by dusk it had established itself close to the
enemy front line. The brigadier then decided that any further day
attack on the village would be too costly and ordered the battalion
to capture it that night. Lieutenant-Colonel Butler held a con–
ference of officers in the kitchen of a farm-house, where by candle
light, with the windows well blanketed and with maps spread on
tables and chairs, they heard his plan of attack. As the fields were
divided off by wire fences and movement across country was con–
sidered to be too difficult in the darkness, the advance was to be
made along three narrow roads converging on the village, one
company being allotted to each road. The fourth, with battalion
headquarters, was to follow on the centre road, leading to the church
whose tower (it was hoped) would act as guide.
Bayonets were fixed and the battalion moved forward in dead
silence. As the village loomed nearer, the strain became great; for
none knew what the strength of the enemy might be or how soon
hell might be let loose by an alarmed garrison. The village square
was, however, reached without incident and there lights were seen
in a house. Colonel Butler ordered its door to be broken open,
whereupon three Germans were pulled out. Put against a wall for
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