Page 463 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

road and escape from the eastern outskirts as the British opened
fire on them from the centre of the village. Here, too, a German
77-millimetre field
fired on our troops at point-blank range,
but was forced to withdraw at the gallop. A line was finally
established east of Lesquin.
On instructions, Second-Lieutenant ]. Wake pushed forward
with a patrol late in the evening to ascertain the position ahead.
He reached Sainghin, five miles south-east of Lille; the inhabitants
told him that there were still a number of Germans in the village.
He left his patrol and went on himself to reconnoitre. On approaching
the chateau, he met and killed a German; but at the house itself
he found the Germans in some force-about forty infantry with
some Uhlans, on whom he inflicted casualties. He then rejoined his
men, established a post in the village for the night, and regained
touch with the battalion at dawn, returning to it when another
battalion passed through to take up the running. The battalion
headquarters of the 2nd/5th were so tired at the end of the day of
17th October that they unwittingly settled down for the night in a
village which lay between the British and German positions-and
slept peacefully in the bliss of ignorance.
After two days' rest the battalion advanced from Cysoing at
8.45 a.m. on 20th October and at
a.m. attacked through the
outpost line, with the two ridges west of Tournai as its objectives.
was treated to considerable shelling throughout the day. But
there was little opposition during the first stage, thanks largely to
the skill and initiative of junior leaders, such as Second-Lieutenant
E. G. V. Righton, who commanded the advanced platoon of his
company and hustled the enemy rear-guards out of every position
they tried to occupy. Once he was in danger of being cut off; but
he immediately organized an attack, himself mounting a Lewis gun
in the open under machine-gun fire, with the result that he was able
to push on. By
a.m. the whole of the first objective had been
taken; and half an hour later the southern part of the second
objective had been taken, including Froidmont, where a complete
divisional ammunition column of one hundred vehicles was captured.
On the left, however, considerable resistance came from the ridge
immediately west of Tournai. Attacks against the enemy positions
here were organized during the night. "B" Company (Captain
Wilson) charged a strong point called "The Reservoir," between
Tournai and Froidmont. Here Serjeant F. W. Harrison, M.M., did
gallant work. He led his platoon forward under cover of a thick
mist to take up an advanced position. Having reached it, he went
on with only one man to do a reconnaissance of the ground in front.
He suddenly came upon a German machine gun about eight yards.
away: without a moment's hesitation he rushed the position,
capturing the
and its crew of five. Meanwhile "D" Company
(Captain H. Waterhouse) had been held up by a strong point
centred round a farm. Serjeant W. F. Rowe made several attempts.
with his section to outflank it, but its machine-gun and rifle fire was.