Page 456 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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1918:
AUGUST TO THE ARMISTICE
the line pushed forward another 1,000 yards by 10.15 a.m., though
further progress was stopped by machine-gun fire. The 18th met
18TH BM.
with rather more opposition though, gallantly and ably led by
Lieutenant-Colonel Jewels, it reached its objective, the Hooghe ridge,
by 8 a.m. Attempts to push on were frustrated by machine-gun
and light artillery fire. The final line of the two units that day ran
south-west to north-east about two miles south-east of Courtrai.
The attack was resumed on 20th October, the divisional objective
being now the River Scheldt. The 18th Battalion acted as advanced
18TH BM.
guard to the brigade, moving in a south-easterly direction on the
east side of the Courtrai-Tournai road.
It
encountered hostile
machine-gun, trench-mortar and artillery fire of sufficient power to
prevent it reaching its final objective on the Kreupel ridge till the
evening. Meanwhile, the 17th Battalion, attacking at 7 a.m. in a
17TH BM.
loose formation and without a barrage, reached its objective by
9 a .m., having driven back slight opposition offered by field guns
and by machine guns, of which it captured one. At the end of the
day the brigade line ran west-south-west to east-north-east some
four and a half miles south-east of Courtrai. Next day the advance
to the Scheldt was taken up by another brigade and the 17th and 18th
Battalions went into billets on the outskirts of Courtrai, in whose
Grande Place their bands played on 26th October, to the huge joy
of the inhabitants.
The previous day the battalions had moved up again, to the
vicinity of Avelghem, close to the northern bank of the Scheldt. At
5 a .m. on 26th October the 17th Battalion attacked in a north-
17TH BN.
easterly direction, in conjunction with active patrolling and probing
by the 18th, who were on their left. Strong opposition was soon met
but was vigorously dealt with. Second-Lieutenant H.
R.
E. Irving
went ahead of his platoon to reconnoitre and came upon a German
machine-gun post. He shot one man and, in spite of heavy fire,
succeeded in taking three prisoners. Outflanking was needed in
many cases and in
this
Second-Lieutenant W. D. Stott showed
skill; he too attacked a machine-gun post that was holding up the
attack, killed its team with his runner's rifle and captured the
gun.
An
advance of about two hundred yards was made, but no further
progress was possible in face of the heavy fire of artillery, trench
mortars and machine guns which poured into the battalion's
position, particularly from the south side of the Scheldt.
An
urgent
message reporting the situation was sent to battalion headquarters,
but no answer was received. Thereupon Private A. Ward volunteered
to take the message and succeeded in getting through with it and
bringing back a reply, though he had to run the gauntlet of snipers
and machine guns all the way. By 12 noon the situation of the forward
troops had become impossible and they were ordered to withdraw to
their original positions, having lost thirty casualties and taken three
prisoners. Meanwhile, the 18th Battalion had been encountering
18TH BM.
similar difficulties on the left, largely owing to heavy fire from the
high ground about Tieghem, and little progress could be made.