Page 419 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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nlE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
the subject of constant attention from German artillery, as it
continued to be all day.
It
was therefore left severely alone. The
following day was comparatively quiet until the evening, when
companies advanced to get into position for an attack next day on
two lines of trenches south-west of Gouzeaucourt. This approach
march proved to be very difficult as the night was extremely dark
and the German artillery was very active, particularly with "Blue
Cross" gas. "A" Company suffered a number of casualties at
this
stage and was given a platoon of
"c"
Company to make up for its
losses, while companies and platoons tended to become inter–
mingled and to lose direction. Nevertheless, all companies were in
position by 3.15 a.m. on 9th September. Zero was three-quarters of
an hour later, when a good though rather too rapidly moving
barrage came down, followed about five minutes later by the
German counter-barrage. The latter included much gas which,
combined with the intense darkness still prevailing, made it most
difficult for the troops to keep their correct direction and
formation. The result was that companies became mixed and
the right support company, "D" (Captain F. W. Brittnell), went
too far to the right. Nevertheless, the leading companies, "A"
(Second-Lieutenant ]. M. Hamilton) on the right and
"c"
(Captain
L.
H. Gibbs) on the left , pressed forward,
"c"
meeting heavy
machine-gun fire on reaching the forward German trench, Heather
Support. Parties worked round the flanks, captured a machine gun
and destroyed the crew; and by 5.10 a .m. the first objective had
been captured, thanks largely to the determination and initiative of
Hamilton and Second-Lieutenant W. Davidson, both of whom
collected small bodies of men and outflanked the enemy. Gibbs
also distinguished himself and killed two of the enemy with
his
revolver as he led his company to clear the objective. At this stage
the support companies should have passed through and gone
forward to the second objective, but owing to their having lost
direction they failed to do so. "D" Company on the right met with
opposition near a light railway line, but succeeded
in
capturing
eight prisoners and two light machine guns, besides killing a number
of the enemy.
It
then moved on and captured a trench some way
to the south of its proper position, but worked north along it until it
gained touch with "A" Company. In the process it "mopped up"
a German strong point and inflicted many casualties.
In the meanwhile Hamilton, realizing that the support companies
were not passing through the first objective, had begun to lead his
own "A" Company forward with some men of "B" Company
(Captain M.
J.
H. Drummond), who had joined him. He reached
Heather Trench, the final objective, quite quickly, but was
im–
mediately bombed by the enemy. Moreover, a German machine
gun opened fire about a hundred yards
in
front of the position;
but COIJ>oral C. Liddamore at once went forward on his own initiative
and himself brought back the gun and its gunner. Eight other
Germans were also taken prisoner and sent back under escort;