Page 446 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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1918:
AUGUST TO THE ARMISTICE
"mopped up." Developments elsewhere now made it possible to
complete the task for which the Battle of the Selle had been fought,
namely the capture of
all
the high ground east of that stream-for
such it is. At 2.10 p.m., therefore, the battalion moved to some
clay-pits in the Faubourg de Landrecies, close to the railway and
about two hundred yards to the east of the road leading from Le
Cateau to Fontaine-au-Bois, as the starting point for an attack to
capture the crest of the ridge which lies east of Le Cateau and
between the road just mentioned and that running from
Le
Cateau
to Pommereuil. "B" Company (Captain
I.
S. Rutherford) was to be
on the right, "C" (Lieutenant
A.
F . Stoker) in the centre, and "D"
{Captain C. H. Potter, M.C.) on the left, with
"A"
(Lieutenant
J.
W.
Deane) in reserve. Profiting by the costly lesson learnt by the South
Africans when they had attempted the same task in broad daylight,
Lieutenant-Colonel Gross decided not to launch his attack until
5.15 p.m., when advantage could be taken of the falling darkness.
The three forward companies came under heavy machine-gun fire
soon after they began to move forward; and, as the troops on the
left could not give their expected co-operation as they were about to
be relieved, the left flank of the 6th was exposed until Deane sent
parties of his company to fill the gap. The soundness of the Com–
manding Officer's choice of time soon showed itself: for parties of
the leading companies were able to stalk many German posts in the
darkness and take a number of prisoners, who said they could not
see our men till they were on top of them. By 6.30 p.m. the
battalion's objective had been fully taken and patrols pushed out
towards the Richemont stream which runs half-way between
Le
Cateau and Pommereuil, at a cost of 18 casualties and a gain of
35 prisoners and 6 machine guns. Late that night the battalion was
relieved and after temporary duty in another part of the brigade
sector moved back on 20th October to a well-earned rest at Premont.
It
was now the turn of the I25th Infantry Brigade to distinguish
1ST/5 TH ,
itself again-this time
in
the Battle of the River Selle, of which the
1ST/ 7T H
historian of the 42nd Division said: "The laurels gained here are
I S~~H
worthy of a place beside those won at Minden." After its successful
BNS .
breach of the Hindenburg Line at the end of September, the brigade
rested at Havrincourt Wood till 7th October, when it moved up to
Esnes and, on the loth, through Haucourt and-perhaps un–
conscious of the fact-across the scene of the 2nd Battalion's fine
defence on 26th August, 1914, during the Battle of Le Cateau, to
Fontaine-au-Pire. Two days later it relieved the 1st New Zealand
Brigade in the line east of Briastre, about a mile north of the scene
of the 6th Battalion's activities just described. The relief was not
made easier by a combination of extreme darkness, heavy rain and
three small attacks delivered against an isolated part of the 1st/8th
Battalion, commanded by Corporal
J.
W. Baldwin, which repulsed
them with heavy loss and the capture of a prisoner. A more serious
attempt against the same unit came on the afternoon of 13th
October when a heavy barrage fell on its front line and, at 5.15 p.m.,