Page 452 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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1918:
AUGUST TO THE ARMISTICE
attack went well. By midday all objectives had been reported
captured, Henshall's platoon was nearing the stream, HA" Company
had fonned a defensive flank in touch with the troops on the right
and
"c"
was linked with the Essex on the final objective. In the
meanwhile Curell, who had established an advanced headquarters
in a chateau north-west of Artres which proved to have an excellent
view over a wide area, was in touch by telephone with the adjutant ,
Captain V. F. S. Hawkins, M.C., at his main headquarters and
through him with the brigadier. Again and again Curell was able to
report targets ripe for bombardment-first a trench mortar spotted
by Winser, later several enemy preparations for counter-attacks on
neighbouring divisions. Henshall was wounded about noon after
most skilfully getting his platoon across the stream and taking 57
prisoners; but Lance-Corporal C. H. Gotts took command of the
platoon and, when it was held up by a trench mortar, he took two
men forward and captured it with its crew of six. The rest of "B"
Company was soon across the stream and, thanks to skilful work by
Private
J.
A. Shelmerdine who worked his way forward alone and
got in rear of a machine gun, rushing it single-handed and capturing
gun and crew, set about establishing the bridgehead more firmly.
In this they were helped by Clarke, who, now that the King's Own
had established posts on the right, could take his HA" Company
from its defensive flank and dribble it across the stream by a bridge
which, though broken, was passable. Under very heavy fire he stood
on the bridge and issued orders while the company was crossing.
It
was largely his very cool and capable handling of this difficult
task that enabled a safe and permanent line to be established on the
far side of the stream. Second-Lieutenant E. Halstead did yeoman
work here, getting his platoon across under heavy fire, fanning out
Lewis-gun sections on the far side and finally establishing himself
about two hundred yards above the stream. The fire power thus
built up, largely on the initiative of section commanders, was heavy
enough to enable the rest of the company to get across. The enemy
suddenly seemed to break and dozens surrendered. The men of
HA" Company took full advantage of this change in the situation
and, of their own accord, began rounding up machine guns. They
were, however, a long way ahead of any troops on the flanks and a
control had to be imposed and a line laid down. By 3 p.m. the
position was firmly established. Half an hour later Curell saw from
his eyrie that the enemy were massing opposite the battalion and its
neighbour. The artillery soon put down a barrage which caused
many casualties and did much to break up the counter-attack which
the Germans delivered at 4 p.m. under cover of a heavy bombard–
ment. The Lancashire Fusiliers were not affected except by the
latter and the gas with which it filled Artres and the river valley. In
spite of all the difficu1ties, Lieutenant A.
R.
Topping, M.C., and
Second-Lieutenant E.
J.
H. Orchard brought the rations up across
country to Curell's chateau, with all the transport wearing box
respirators.