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418
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
held a sort of "watching brief" at Neuvilly on 19th and 20th
October to prevent the enemy crossing to the south of the Selle
during the attack of another brigade. They were able to make a
direct contribution with their Lewis guns with which they did good
execution amongst enemy trying to escape; and eight Germans
surrendered to "A" Company.
It
was, however, an unpleasant
experience as the village was subjected to heavy gas shelling.
2ND
BN.
It
fell to the lot of the 2nd Battalion (Major W. B. Curell in
temporary command) to bring up the rear (as it were) of the battle
with a spirited action that was also its own last fight of the war.
It
was fitting that this should have taken place only some fifteen
miles from the scene of its first fight, the first engagement of the
Regiment in the war, on 26th August, 1914. From rest billets at
Villers-en-Cauchies, the battalion moved on 24th October to an
area north-east of Saulzoir. That evening "A" Company (Captain
S. Clarke, M.C.) was lent to the 2nd King's O""TI for the next day's
operations, which involved the capture of Querenaing, while the
rest of the unit relieved the Seaforth Highlanders in Verchain.
The King's Own attack was a complete success, and "A" Company
returned to the fold. During the afternoon of 25th October, "B"
Company (Lieutenant A. B. Winser) with "A" Company in support
relieved the King's Own, and "C" Company (Captain G. N. Stange,
M.C.) with "D" (Captain A. Howarth, M.C.) in support relieved
the 2nd Essex Regiment, in both cases on the railway line between
Querenaing and Artres. Curell put his battalion headquarters in
Querenaing chateau. At about 10 p.m. orders were received from
brigade headquarters to send forward patrols in order to establish
a line on the sunken road leading from Artres to Famars. As the
position of the flank divisions was unknown, there was a risk that
"B" and "C" Companies, to whom it fell to carry out these orders,
would be isolated; they were therefore told to hold the road as an
outpost position and to regard the line held by "A" and "D"
Companies on the railway as the main battle zone. Before, however,
Stange and Winser could make their plan, the brigadier had
suggested, and Curell had agreed, that it would
be
best to stage a
proper attack in the morning, in conjunction with other troops and
under a barrage. "B" and "C" Companies were accordingly told to
close in to their right so as to make room for the 2nd Essex Regiment
on their left, and then to form up as right and left front attacking
companies, with the sunken road and the village of Artres as their
objectives; "A" Company was to form a defensive flank on the
right and to mop up Artres; while "D" was to support and replace
"B" and "C" in the sunken road. Zero was at 10 a.m. on 26th
October. At 9 a.m. orders were received that a special platoon
under an officer was to be detailed to push on after the final objective
had been reached and to establish a bridgehead over La Rhonelle
stream to the north-east of Artres: the task, which was stressed as
being of the highest importance, was entrusted to Second–
Lieutenant W. D. Henshall and a platoon of "B" Company. The