Page 432 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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1918: AUGUST TO THE ARMISTICE
399
but the 23rd Battalion (Major
J.
P. M. Ingham, D.S.O., Royal23JU>
BlC.
Munster Fusiliers, in temporary command) took part in a
preliminary operation on the previous day in order to make good the
western bank of the River Lys. At 5.45 a.m. on 27th September it
left its position on the northern outskirts of Pont de Nieppe and
advanced towards the river between the Bailleul-Armentieres road
and the bend in the river at the Belgian frontier. Considerable
opposition was met and one company was held up by a party of
Germans holding a farm which was surrounded by a moat. Private
W. Parkinson swam the moat in the teeth of strong opposition and
cleared the farm. The advance was thus enabled to continue and
the battalion reached its objective except on the extreme right.
But its position proved to be untenable owing to the heavy enfilade
fire to which it was subjected and, later in the day, it was ordered
to withdraw and to establish posts to the north-east and east of
Pont de Nieppe, which was successfully done. Private W.
Parkinson, who was wounded in the later stages of the operation,
was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Private L. B.
Ross the Military Medal.
The 1St Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel F. S. Modera, D.S.O., M.C.)
1ST BN.
had the distinction of being one of the two battalions which led the
main attack in the 29th Division.
It
took over the front of the 86th
Infantry Brigade close to the crossing of the Ypres-Roulers railway
and the Ypres-Menin road by 10 p.m. on 27th September, sharing a
headquarters with the 1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers in a cutting. A
fire broke out there soon after the arrival of the Lancashire Fusiliers
(post hoc
is not necessarily
propter hoc!),
in which Lieutenant–
Colonel Modera's raincoat was burnt, a grievous loss during the
drenching rain which came down after the first day of the attack.
The battalion's task on 28th September was to capture the 86th
Brigade's first objective ("Red Line"), which ran north and south
about three-quarters of a mile east of Hooge and just short of the
bend in the Ypres-Menin road. By 5 a.m. the unit was deployed in
depth, with "A" Company (Captain C. Wedgwood) on the right and
"D" Company (Captain V. H. Kempson) on the left in front, "B"
(Captain P. D. W. Dunn) being in support of "A" and "C" (Captain
H.
Q.
Rangecroft, M.C.) in support of "D." Zero was at 5.30 a.m. ;
and the advance took place under a barrage, part of which fell short
and inflicted the majority of the day's casualties as the troops were
so eager to get forward that they followed the barrage rather too
closely in some cases. Lieutenant-Colonel Modera was wounded in
the face and hand by a smoke shell which burst between him and
Kempson; both, however, remained at duty though Kempson had
to leave the line on the 30th. The objective was soon taken, with
about 120 prisoners and a number of machine guns of various types,
though not without fighting, as was shown by the finding of a
mortally wounded serjeant of the battalion surrounded by five dead
and bayoneted Germans. As soon as the "Red Line" had been seized,
other units passed through and reached a line beyond Gheluvelt.