Page 405 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
position to the south-east of the village by means of fighting patrols,
in the handling of one of which Second-Lieutenant F. H. Topham
distinguished himself by his skill and determination; Serjeant
Taylor, the signalling serjeant, also did good work in running
communications forward to the new line. On the next day the two
battalions continued to press forward with fighting patrols, which
had to do some stiff fighting in places. Indeed, the Germans were
not inclined to be hustled, as they showed on the 16th by attacking
two of the new posts of the 1st/7th, though with no success in one
case and only partial success in the other, and by repeating the
process on the following day with similar results. As an additional
deterrent to any hasty British action, the Germans heavily shelled
the Serre ridge during these days. During this period the 1st/5th
Battalion had continued to carry out training at the back of the
divisional area, except that
fiB"
Company had been moved forward
to Fort Hood, south-west of Hebuteme, on 14th August, and that
all
the officers had reconnoitred the ground in front of Serre on 19th
August.
On the 20th all the companies of the 1st/5th gathered in
assembly positions west of the Beaumont Hamel-Puisieux-au-Mont
road and final orders were issued for the attack on 21st. The 12sth
Brigade was the left of the two attacking brigades of the 42nd
Division, with New Zealanders on its left. For this preliminary
phase of the operation, the brigade had three objectives allotted to
it. The first was Hill 140 and a strong-point known as "The
Lozenge," about a mile south of Puisieux-au-Mont: this was to be
the responsibility of the 1st/5th, less one company-and a heavy
responsibility too, for The Lozenge was a nest of hostile machine
guns and the key to the whole position. The second objective was
some high ground about half a mile farther east to which the
remaining company of the 1st/5th was to advance two hours after
zero. The third objective was situated on either side of the junction
of five roads, known as "Beauregard Dovecot," on high ground half
a mile north-west of Miraumont, overlooking that village and the
valley of the River Ancre: its importance is obvious from its
description. To capture it was the task of half of the 1st/7th, which
was to pass through the 1st/stb on the second objective four hours
after zero. The 1st/8th was to remain in reserve.
Like the fatal 21st March, 21st August opened with a thick
mist which made the keeping of direction difficult, though it very
greatly helped the attacking troops to reach their starting points
unseen. At 4.45 a.m. an excellent barrage gave the signal for the
1st/5th to advance, with "D" (Captain
J.
K.
S. Page, M.C.), "A"
(Second-Lieutenant
J.
Riley) and "C" (Captain A. W. Haywood,
M.C.) Companies in front, and "B" Company (Captain C. E.
Hartley) in support. Thanks to the mist and the barrage, the
battalion had few casualties and soon possessed itself of the first
objective, where Haywood helped greatly
in
speeding up re–
organization, moving about in the open under heavy fire for the