Page 421 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
19I4-19I8
Bodington, M.C.) Companies attacked a trench to the south of
Canteleux Alley South known as "Canal Reserve," seized it and
held it against several counter-attacks. Second-Lieutenant A.
R.
B.
Noble behaved with great gallantry and vigour during this operation,
both in the initial attack and later, especially when he had only four
men left in his platoon but yet repelled a German bombing attack
and defeated a further attack by well-directed rifle fire. He received
the Military Cross for his inspiring coolness and good work.
A more important operation in its effect on events as a whole
1ST B N.
was that carried out by the Ist Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel F. S.
Modera, D.S.a ., M.C.), which was ordered to assist in the taking of
Ploegsteert, regarded as the key to the enemy's main line of
resistance in this area, on 4th September in conjunction with other
attacks on the flanks. The unit moved at dusk on 3rd September to
its assembly positions, which were very difficult to find as the
country was strange and the maps were poor, while the Germans
were nervous, lit the sky with flares and swept the roads with
machine-gun fire. The second-in-command, Major T. Slingsby, M.C.,
on approaching a post which should have been behind the British
lines according to the information supplied, was challenged in
German and had to withdraw precipitately, followed by machine–
gun bullets and by his runner, who had to tear his way through a
wire entanglement at the cost of his steel helmet and part of his
trousers!
It
proved that much of the line laid down as the starting
point of the attack was still in German hands. By 4.15 a.m.,
however, on 4th September the battalion was formed up, with "A"
and "C" Companies in front, "D" and "B" in support and reserve
cespectively. During its assembly, "A" Company was much troubled
by machine-gun fire from behind its right flank. This proved to
come from the post which had already been so inconsiderate to
Major Slingsby and his runner. The post was dealt with and yielded
a capture of nine Germans and two machine
guns.
Shortly before
zero a party of about fifty Germans succeeded in working round the
right flank of "A" Company with two machine guns, which opened
heavy fire. Serjeant W. Mullane took six men and, under cover of
Lewis-gun fire, charged the party, which, after losing several killed,
surrendered with their guns.
The attack was launched at 8 a.m. with rather a weak barrage as
the bulk of the available artillery was being used for what was
expected to be the stiffer resistance elsewhere. As a result, "A"
Company was able to advance only a few yards before it was held up
by heavy machine-gun and trench-mortar fire. "C" Company on the
left also met with strong opposition on its right; but one of its
platoons, under Second-Lieutenant G. McK. Bruce, reached its
objective close to "Hyde Park Corner," at a bend in the Ploegsteert–
Messines road in the northern part of Ploegsteert Wood, and helped
to
protect the right flank of the unit on the left, though its own right
Hank was in the
air.
Another barrage was arranged for 3 p.m. when
the ISt Royal Dublin Fusiliers captured the village of Ploegsteert