Page 412 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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I9I8:
AUGUST TO THE ARMISTICE
379
explained with the help of plasticine models. On the night of
23rd/24th August they moved back to the line and were joined by
Royal Engineers, pioneers and miners. Early in the morning of
24th August, snipers crawled out in the grass in front of the British
lines to deal with any Germans who showed unwelcome curiosity to
their front: as the Brigade War Diary quaintly records, "several
German sentries were cancelled by these snipers." There was no
preliminary bombardment by the artillery, but the trench mortars
fired as usual and the aeroplane carried out its daily flight. On this
occasion, however, the red rocket sent up by the infantry at 7.20 a.m.
was the signal for the launching of the attack; and the aeroplane
flew beyond the far lips of the craters in order both to draw the
attention of the German sentries behind them and also to fire on the
enemy's machine guns. Silently the assaulting troops climbed out
of their trenches and had made their way across the hundred yards
of No Man's Land to the German lines before the garrisons could
fire a shot or get into action more than a single machine gun, which
was instantly silenced by Corporal]. C. ]ohnson of the 2nd/5th who
saw it about to be fired and rushed it. Within ten minutes all the
2nd/5th Battalion's objectives had been gained and it was twelve
minutes after zero before the enemy artillery opened fire. Work on
the consolidation of the positions won was put in hand at once and
patrols were sent out to a distance of about a hundred yards along
the German communication trenches. Many Germans who fled over
the far lips of the craters on the arrival of the British were caught in
the open by rifle and Lewis-gun fire. Second-Lieutenants W.
Forster, M.C., and G. Walsh did very useful work at this stage, as
also did Second-Lieutenant F. Bolton who, although wounded
early in the attack, continued to lead his men and help with con–
solidation, remaining with them for twelve hours and then only
leaving to have his wound attended to when ordered to do so.
The consolidation was soon tested; for at 9.30 a.m. the Germans
attempted a counter-attack with two companies, which were soon
shattered by artillery, Lewis-gun and rifle fire. The work of putting
the new line in order was thereafter continued steadily during the
day, though under heavy fire, Lance-Corporal C. E. Gwilt being
particularly useful in methodically carrying out anti-gas measures
for twelve hours without rest, preventing many casualties from this
cause. Lance-Corporal]. Lumb continued at work for thirty-six
hours, although he had been wounded at the outset and, unable to
walk, had crawled after his section to rejoin it in one of the most
advanced positions in the battalion. Patrolling was maintained as
before; and Corporal D.
E.
Byrom, who had taken command of his
platoon when its commander was killed, skilfully led two patrols
with which he maintained touch with the enemy and obtained much
useful information. At 8 p.m. a barrage was put down behind the
enemy lines to break up any possible preparations for another
counter-attack; but although shelling continued, it was not until
5.5 a.m. on 25th that the Germans again attempted to recapture the