Page 426 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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1918: AUGUST TO THE ARMISTICE
INTO THE HINDENBURG LINE
"HINDENBURG LINE," "CANAL DU NORD"
1st/5th, 1st/7th and 1st/8th Battalions
393
The British Anny was now in a position to attack the Hin–
denburg Line, the strongest defences ever prepared up till then.
That it was not impregnable had been proved by the 29th and other
Divisions on 20th November, I9I7. But the advance of the Germans
in March, I9I8, had enabled them to reoccupy it in September, I9I8,
as they originally had done; and they looked forward to holding up
any British attack on it, mistakenly as it turned out. To the 42nd
Division was entrusted on 27th September, I918, the task of
penetrating the Hindenburg Line to a depth of two miles to the east
of Trescault, crossing two steep-sided ridges and having as its final
objective ("Blue Line") a third spur, known as "Highland Ridge,"
which points in a north-easterly direction at Marcoing and lies above
the cleft of the Couillet Valley. Patrols were to be sent across the
latter to "Welsh Ridge," a spur running parallel to "Highland
Ridge." The I25th Infantry Brigade was to attack on the right,
with the Ist/7th Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel G. S. Brewis, D.S.O.)
on the right and the Ist/8th Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel ] . S.
MacLeod) on the left. As it would have been impossible for the
42nd Division to cross the lower ends of the spurs running north
from Beaucamp until the high ground at that place and at Fles–
quieres to the north had been captured, the attack of the Lancashire
Fusiliers was timed to start about two and a half hours after that of
the division on their outer flank. "A" Company (Captain W.
J.
O'Bryen, M.C.) of the Ist/7th moved forward at 8.2 a .m., and after
1ST/7TH
hard fighting gained its objective. At 8.38 a.m. "B" Company
BN.
(Captain E.
C.
Sington) passed through them and advanced towards
the second objective. Unfortunately, the division on the right had
not been able to take the vital high ground at Beaucamp, whence
came heavy machine-gun fire which held up the whole of the 42nd
Division for some time. "C" Company (Major
R.
H. Cade) came up
to help "B," but could make no progress. The Gennans seized the
opportunity to counter-attack, bombing down a communication
trench known as Beaucamp Support. They were driven off, largely
thanks to the pluck of Private ]. F. Evans, who mounted his Lewis
gun on the parapet and inflicted heavy casualties on them. Shortly
before noon,
"c"
Company had to withdraw to escape a barrage put
down by the 4.5-inch howitzers in an endeavour to destroy the nests
of obstructing machine guns. A tank was seen to be trying to attack
these nests just north of Beaucamp, but it was put out of action. At
about
I
p.m. "C" Company tried again to reach its objective but,
after making some progress, was once more held up by heavy fire
from the direction of Beaucamp and from near the tank. They
endeavoured to outflank the latter obstacle but without success.
On the other hand, they frustrated an attempt made by the enemy
to work round their right flank; and at the end of the day the