Page 45 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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set on fire by enemy shells, the flames lighting up the countryside all
round. Fortunately, however, little damage was done to the troops.
During the night, Lieutenant-Colonel Butler sent up a party of
Royal Engineers who built a strong barricade across the village
street. The battalion spent the night digging a trench line which
eventually became the second line and remained intact until the
unit moved north in April, I9I5. "B" Company was on the left,
with "D" echeloned to its right rear and"
in reserve. Battalion
headquarters were established in a farm which was later known as
Pakenham Farm, Lieutenant-Colonel Butler's headquarters being
in the Estaminet de la Gare for the night and the regimental aid
post in the waiting-room of Le Touquet station.
The I9th was a day of fine weather and was devoted to improving
trenches with the help of tools requisitioned from local tobacco
planters. Thirty-five sets of wire-cutters bought by the Staff Captain,
Captain O.
North, in Armentieres, were also issued to the battalion
at its request for this work. Early in the day Woodman sent Evatt)
who was accompanied by a signaller, Private Earnshaw, to find out
whether there were any signs of the enemy near Frelinghien bridge
and whether the Germans had placed a barricade across the road
near it. Being unable to see the bridge from the ground, Evatt
climbed into a willow tree and had just time to see a barricade of
carts at the further end of the bridge when a shrapnel shell burst
near by, followed soon after by two more from behind Frelinghien.
Judging that they had been seen, the investigators thereupon
dropped into a ditch and hurried back along it. They were not
further troubled, but deemed it advisable to sprint at their top
speed across an open space which lay between the end of the ditch
and Pakenham Farm. Woodman commented on their lack of breath
and did not seem to think that the haste had been necessary. But
the German gunners, having tracked the scouts to their lair, sent
some rather heavy shells on to the farm, riddling its gate and taking
most of the slates off the roof. This left Woodman quite unmoved in
his overdue reading of
The Times
until a high explosive shell burst
in the middle of the farm-yard, causing the complete disappearance
of a large churn, when at last he consented to join the rest of battalion
headquarters in the cellar, which was dark and chilly but certainly
safer and moreover usefully stocked with bacon and buttermilk. The
artillery dealt with the vindictive enemy with sufficient effect to
secure that the rest of the day was quiet.
Patrols sent out by the battalion during the night of the I9th/20th
October discovered that the Germans had put up a fresh barricade
and had reinforced their troops on the west bank of the Lys. During
the morning of 20th October an attack was made against the troops
on the left of the battalion which partially succeeded; and by
a report had to be sent to brigade headquarters to the effect that the
battalion's left flank was being turned. One company of the Essex