Page 402 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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1918:
AUGUST TO THE ARMISTICE
PROBING
1st Battalion
Signs began to multiply that the enemy's morale was beginning
to weaken even where he intended to stand his ground, which was
not everywhere.
It
was therefore important to continue to worry
him
and to find out where he was prepared to give up ground and
where he was prepared to resist-in other words, to establish the
position of his main line of resistance if a major attack was ordered.
This was the object of a series of affrays in which the 1st Battalion
1ST BN.
(Lieutenant-Colonel F. S. Modera, D.S.O., M.C.) was concerned
in
the second week
in
August. At 10 a.m. on
IIth
August, Lieutenant
H. Laslett and two men reconnoitred a German machine-gun post
which had been located in the south-west corner of "Celery Copse,"
close to the south side of the railway half a mile south-west of Merris.
An
hour and a half later he reported that the post was empty.
Early in the afternoon Lieutenants 1. Gorfunkle and S.
J.
Scurlock
with two men reconnoitred the ground as far as "Alert Crossing," a
level-crossing immediately south of Merris, and reported that they
had seen no Germans. At the same time Serjeants A. Tippet and W.
Hillidge and another man went along the eastern edge of Celery
Copse and found it unoccupied. Unfortunately, snipers from near
Lynde Farm, to the south of the Copse, hit and killed Tippet as the
party returned.
It
was then decided to occupy Celery Copse and
Lynde Farm. The left company, "B," dribbled its platoons forward
to the eastern edge of the copse and established its position there
by 5.30 p.m. "D" Company, on the right, sent forward a patrol of
four men under Corporal A. Amsom to examine Lynde Farm. They
met with no opposition until they reached a trench containing a
number of shelters, which ran from the southern edge of Celery Copse
to the farm. They worked up this trench to one of the shelters, were
challenged from farther down the trench and from another of the
shelters, and were fired on. They returned the fire and inflicted
casualties. On the way back, Amsom was wounded but continued
to lead his patrol coolly and brought back information on which the
trench was severely bombarded by Stokes mortars. At 6.55 p.m.
Lieutenant H. Laslett and fourteen men rushed the post and took
prisoner a German N.C.O. and a wounded man.
It
transpired that
the other twelve men of the garrison had deserted the post at dusk,
but that the commander had refused to leave until he was properly
relieved. "D" Company cleared up the situation at Lynde Farm,
taking six prisoners and two machine guns, and enabled fiB"
Company to go forward at 8.30 p.m.
During the afternoon of the next day the battalion tried to
advance its line by "peaceful penetration" to some trucks on an old
British siding close to the Merris-Vieux Berquin road. These were
shelled for half an hour, at the end of which "B" Company sent out
scouts supported by Lewis guns and riflemen. No. 7 Platoon reached
the road, saw an enemy post and rushed it, taking six prisoners.
It
2B