Page 425 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
on 9th September. The same unit (Major T.
B.
Forwood, Duke of
Lancaster's Own Yeomanry, in temporary command) repeated the
attempt on 18th September, this time successfully.
It
attacked at
5.20 a.m. that morning, with all its four companies
in
line, under a
barrage so intense that "C" Company and part of "B" had to be
withdrawn fifty yards in rear of Heather Support trench, the
starting line, so that it might clear them. The companies reached
their objectives between 5.30 and 5-40 a.m. "D" Company on the
right arrived before the battalion on its right and met with some
opposition from a machine
gun
and some bombers concealed in
Heather Trench. These were, however, quickly overcome by a
platoon which worked down the trench and established touch with
the neighbouring unit by 5-40 a .m. The other companies met with
little resistance, though they were hampered by intermingling on
the part of the unit on the left, which had partly lost direction.
During this stage of the operation all the officers of "B" Company
became casualties and Company Serjeant-Major H. Ashton took
command of it until an officer could be sent from elsewhere. On
reaching the objective each company quickly pushed forward a
platoon to deal with any Germans who might be lurking in shell–
holes in front, so as to protect the 50th Infantry Brigade as it passed
through at about 5.50 a.m. to attack a further objective. The
battalion could not accurately count its prizes, but estimated them
at 100 prisoners, 8 heavy and 14 light machine guns, 2 trench
mortars and 3 anti-tank rifles.
It
had not, however, finished its
activities for the day; for the division on the left did not succeed in
taking its second objective and the left flank of the successful 50th
Brigade was exposed. At about 12.30 p.m., therefore, the battalion
was ordered to form a defensive flank in positions which proved to
be under direct observation from the enemy, with the result that
considerable artillery and machine-gun fire was experienced and
that touch could not be established with the unit on the right. The
positions were, however, maintained throughout the day. On the
next two days, 19th and 20th, companies relieved units
of
the
division on the left. On 21st further adjustments were carried out
and two patrols, sent out to see whether the enemy was still in
position or had retired, found that he was not disposed to go without
further pressure. The whole battalion was relieved on 23rd
September. Throughout this period, Second-Lieutenant H. W.
Smith performed most valuable work as signalling officer in main–
taining communications under heavy fire and sending back useful
reports under very adverse conditions. He was awarded the Military
Cross. Other decorations received were :-
Bar to Military Medal
Serjeant W. Gledhill. M.M.
Military Medal
Serjeant E. C. Alcock.
Serjeant W. L. Webb.
Private A. Tomlinson.