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412
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
outskirts of Montay. The village lies in a hollow, and as White's
position would have been most difficult in daylight he was ordered
to withdraw soon after midnight. Higher authority, however,
having a wider view of the situation, sent a message at 4.30 a.m. on
IIth October, saying that Montay must be held at all costs. Vestey
Jones and his "B" Company were therefore at once sent forward to
reoccupy the position vacated by
"A"
Company; and by 6 a.m. he
was able to report that he had done so. The enemy kept up a fairly
hot fire on the position throughout the day but with little effect. The
battalion was relieved late the same day, having lost
I
officer and
IS other ranks killed, 3 officers and 163 other ranks wounded and 13
men missing.
It
was, however, to enjoy a very short rest. For on 16th October
it moved forward to Reumont and at 5.30 p.m. took over from a
South African battalion a turnip-field about a mile and a half from
the village and to the south side of the Roman road which runs
through it . At II a.m. on 17th October the battalion was ordered
to cross the River Selle at St. Benin and seize
Le
Cateau station, on
the supposition that the South African brigade held the railway
triangle north of the station and that the Scottish Horse were well
forward south of it. "A" and "B" Companies were to lead the
attack, "D" in support and "C"
in
reserve. The advance began at
11.15 a.m.; and, taking advantage of the cover afforded by a steep
ravine which drops slantingly from the Roman road to the Selle
valley, the leading companies made rapid progress. When, however,
they emerged into the valley, they came under heavy machine-gun
fire from its steep eastern slope and shells began to drop in the ravine.
Nevertheless "A," "B" and "D" Companies had made their way
across the river before it was discovered that the South Africans and
the Scottish Horse were not where they had been thought to be and
the operation was cancelled.
It
took orders some time to reach those
companies; but by 3 p.m. they had disengaged and returned to their
turnip-field, which proved to be a very cold and uncomfortable
lodging.
It
was therefore with pleasure that orders were received in the
small hours of 18th October that the 6th Lancashire Fusiliers were to
relieve the 6th Royal Dublin Fusiliers in
Le
Cateau and complete the
clearing of the town. The unit moved off at once and arrived
in
Le
Cateau at 3.45 a.m. to find a confused situation and no guides,
owing to the fact that the Dublin Fusiliers were still busily fighting
the Germans in many parts of the town. Conditions were made
worse by the dampness of the night, a thick mist, and persistent
high-explosive and gas shelling. Not until 10 a.m. was the relief
complete , "B" Company taking over the right sector from the
Selle up to and including the Faubourg de France south-east of the
town, "C" the Faubourg de Landrecies to the east of it and "D"
the Faubourg St. Martin to the north of it, with "A"
in
support
in
the centre of the town. By midday the gas shelling had stopped, the
mist had cleared and all German pockets in the town had been