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374
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
1st/7th felt the effects of it, though they were able to beat it off with
heavy losses and the capture of a number of prisoners. Here again
Lance-Serjeant Smith of the 1st/5th did most valuable work by
leading a section forward and restoring the line where it had been
pierced. His courage, skilful handling of his weapons, his tactical
ability and his natural powers of leadership were a great inspiration
to
all
about
him
and helped to steady what might have been a
critical situation. Serjeant
J.
Lea, of the 1st/5th, showed prompt
courage and initiative: when a party of Germans tried to work
round a machine gun which was holding up their progress, he
collected his section and charged them, bayoneting or capturing
the lot. Similar action was taken by Company Serjeant-Major
F.
J.
Carless of the 1st/5th, who took ten prisoners and killed other
Germans as a prelude to putting out posts to protect the
gun
against
further attack. Corporal Greenhalgh of the 1st/5th once more came
to the fore; he led out his Lewis-gun section and silenced a machine
gun which was covering the Germans' advance, thereby contributing
largely to the repulse of their attack. Company Serjeant-Major
J.
Fisher, D.C.M., M.M., of the 1st/5th, was another whose gallantry
contributed to the German failure. He rallied and encouraged two
platoons when the enemy barrage was at its worst; and when the
only officer of his company was hit he took command of it and
organized the defence so ably that it completely foiled all the
enemy's efforts. Captain A. W. Haywood, M.C., also did splendid
work in ensuring that the defences held. O'Bryen of the 1st/7th led
a party on to the capture of a strong-point which was causing
trouble. Unfortunately, the fire of German machine guns from the
other side of the Ancre valley was so heavy and so deadly that the
1st/7th was compelled to withdraw slightly to the reverse slope of
the third objective and to occupy new positions which had wisely
been prepared during the previous afternoon. The Germans
renewed their efforts at 7 p.m. but, being caught in their own
barrage as well as in the British defensive fire, had to fall back to
their own line.
The final capture of the Dovecot was achieved early on the
morning of the 23rd when "A" (Captain D. G. Bird) and "D"
(Captain S. D. Harrison, M.C.) Companies of the 1st/8th, acting
under the orders of the 1st/7th, assembled on a line running east and
west (and thus enfilading the German position) and attacked at
2.30 a.m. diagonally across the front of the 1st/7th. This daring and
most difficult operation was a complete success, the more so as the
Germans were taken entirely by surprise. By 2.40 a.m. the two
companies had seized the high ground west of the Dovecot which
constituted their first objective; and by 2.50 a.m., getting home
with the bayonet and clearing all before them, they gained possession
of the Dovecot itself, together with twelve machine guns and fifty
prisoners. Second-Lieutenant F. H . Topham, whose good work on
14th August has already been mentioned, led his men very well
under heavy fire in this attack and was responsible for the capture