Page 416 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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"D" (Second-Lieutenant D. McIntosh) Companies had each to
provide a carrying party in the evening to take ammunition to
forward dumps and that "A" Company had also to attach two
platoons to the King's Own for the blocking on the left of the first
two trenches of the Drocourt-Queant Line. The carrying parties
were kept at work until the rest of the battalion had formed up and
were unable to rejoin their companies until dawn. Very valuable
work was done before the battle by Lieutenant A.
Topping. He
carried out several road reconnaissances under considerable
difficulties and heavy shell fire; while at night he succeeded in
bringing up the transport with its precious load of ammunition,
rations and water through many obstacles, including shell fire which
had destroyed an important bridge.
At 5 a .m. on 2nd September the barrage for the attack came
down. Very soon after, the battalion suffered a severe loss in the
death of Captain G. G. ("Granny") Bowen, M.e., an outstanding
and much-loved officer, whose funeral two days later was attended
by all available officers and the whole of his own "B" Company.
The attack took a confused course; and the battalion, although
nominally in support, was involved at an early stage in some stiff
fighting. Second-Lieutenant D. McIntosh and his runner, Private
]. B. Currie, saw two German field guns firing on the British front
line and the tanks supporting the attack-indeed one tank had been
put out of action-but McIntosh took a few of his men and rushed
the guns, killing an officer and three men at one gun and taking the
rest prisoner, while Currie worked his way round to the flank of the
other gun, shot the officer as he was about to reload it, and with the
help of a serjeant rounded up the crew. By 9 a.m. the brigade's
objectives had been taken, except on the left near Etaing, with
many prisoners. Most of the rest of the day was spent in con–
solidation, under great difficulties owing to constant shell fire and
the arrival of additional German machine guns on the ridge east of
Eterpigny, which caused numerous casualties and reduced "A"
Company's remaining officers to one very junior officer, recently
arrived from England. Later, the battalion was ordered to withdraw
from its position on the day's objective and fonn up on the "Orange
Line," north of Eterpigny, in readiness for an attack on Etaing.
The companies were very scattered, there was no telephone com–
munication and few of the runners-the real heroes of every battle
-knew the way to "B," "C" or "D" Companies, which had gone
farther to the right than had been intended. The result was that
when zero for the new attack came at 5 a.m. on 3rd September,
only "A" Company was fully ready and in position, and the others
had to be thrown in as soon as they arrived. Corporal S.
J. J.
was of the greatest assistance at this stage to the inexperienced
commander of "A" Company: for the company serjeant-major and
all the serjeants became casualties and it fell to
to advise his
officer, which he did with laudable judgement and coolness, mat–
erially contributing to the steadiness and good organization of the