Page 462 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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1918: AUGUST TO THE ARMISTICE
·pauses in the advance. While they were so doing on the bank of the
River Scheldt near Warcoing, Captain T. Cowcher earned the
Military Cross for a deed of gallantry for which he was recommended
for a Victoria Cross. He saw a British aeroplane come down in
flames on the German side of the river. The observer and pilot had
both been wounded. The former crawled out of the WTeckage and was
trying to carry the pilot to a place of safety when Cowcher saw that
he was walking towards some houses occupied by the Germans. He
shouted to them to come in his direction and swam across the river
to help them. The Germans, who had up till then kept silent, then
opened fierce rifle and machine-gun fire. But Cowcher refused to
turn back and succeeded in bringing the two wounded airmen back
to our lines.
REAL MOBILE WARFARE AT LAST
2nd/5th Battalion
By now the British Armies were moving forward along their
whole front-in some places very rapidly, as the 2nd/5th Battalion
2ND/5TH ]
(Lieutenant-Colonel G. S. Brighten, D.S.O.) showed near Lille.
BN.• ,
Returning to the line on 12th October, it moved on 16th October to
the hamlet of Lattre, north-east of Wavrin, with parties of the
Royal Artillery, tunnellers and bridging experts of the Royal
Engineers, and machine-gunners, in readiness for an advance. The
enemy were holding the line of the Haute Deule Canal but began to
withdraw during the night of 16th/17th October. Second-Lieutenant
J.
Ferguson of the 2nd/5th followed close on their heels with a
patrol of eleven men and established a bridgehead behind which a
bridge was put up for his company to cross. He then pushed on to
the Seclin Canal, where he found a covering party of Germans:
these he promptly attacked and forced to retire, enabling this
obstacle also to be bridged and his company to establish itself on
the north-east bank. The battalion's advanced guard then passed
through, under the command of Captain
J.
R.
Bodington, M.C.,
who acted with such energy and skill over a wide area that the
German rear-guards were driven from position to position. At 5 a.m.
the remaining companies advanced, meeting only a few rifle shots.
By nightfall they had advanced 17,000 yards on a 5,000 yards
front and had freed ten villages, where for the first time they met
civilians who greeted them with flags and flowers. Their advance
had not, however, been a mere route march: for every cross-road
was blown up by the Germans, sometimes as the 2nd/5th arrived,
and telegraph poles had been cut through so that they fell across
the road. And it was so rapid that they found themselves with an
exposed flank of some 6,000 yards. Towards the end of the day,
opposition was met at Lesquin, two and a half miles south-east
of Lille. A machine
gun
firing from a house was attacked and
its team driven out. The enemy received a rude shock here; and a
lorry full of his troops was only just able to make a crater in the