Page 447 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

the forward companies reported that the Germans had driven in the
posts on their right and that they had themselves suffered heavy
casualties. Two platoons were sent up to reinforce the threatened
sector; and Captain D. Cumming, M.C., who was in command of the
two front-line companies, led forward all available men from his ·
command post to re-establish the right flank near Belle Vue and if
necessary fonn a defensive flank to the south. Baldwin again did
splendid work. Although wounded early in this affair, he hung on to
his position until turned out of it by heavy enfilade fire. He then
took his men to another position and refused to have his wound
dressed until he was ordered back to the aid post . He was awarded
the Distinguished Conduct Medal. After continued shelling and the
loss of 3 officers and 50 other ranks, quiet was restored with the
battalion's line running along the road east of the river close to
There were, however, signs of a possible Gennan withdrawal
from the close proximity of the Selle; and during the next few days
patrols were sent out by the 1st/7th (which had relieved the 1st/8th)
and 1st/5th Battalions to see what progress could be made. On I5th
October, soon after midnight, a platoon of "B" Company of the
1st/5th tried to establish posts on the Belle Vue-Solesmes road. As
they moved forward they heard sounds of the enemy working in a
factory. Lance-Corporal W. Armstrong led his section towards this
point so quietly that he was able to go in and take a light machine
which was in the firing position, before the Germans realized
what was happening. Twenty enemy then appeared and opened fire:
but they were too late and Annstrong got his section away with their
trophy and without casualties-and got a Military Medal for his
skill-while the company was able to establish posts a short distance
east of the Selle.
After a short rest near Quievy, the brigade relieved the Man–
chester Brigade in the positions it had in the meanwhile won south–
east of Solesmes in the face of stubborn opposition by the hitherto
"invincible" 25th Gennan Division, which was to regret still further
its encounters with Lancashire troops on 23rd October. For on that
day the 125th Brigade had the task of carrying the divisional front
forward to a line just short of the River Harpies to the south-east
of Romeries, as a preliminary to the capture of a position beyond
that stream by the New Zealanders. The preparations for the
attack on the 2znd were made more difficult than usual by the need
to carry out in pitch darkness a series of complicated manceuvres in
touch with the enemy so as to suit the barrage plans of neighbouring
divisions, by the presence of German gas and machine guns seem–
ingly everywhere, by the fact that the enemy had the observation,
and by frequent changes of orders. The final orders could not be
issued by the brigadier till 2 p.m.-and then back at Belle Vue–
after which the company commanders of one unit at least had to
crawl considerable distances to attend their Commanding Officer's
conference. The result was that platoon commanders got their