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434
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
which blew in every machine-gun and infantry post except one,
the Gennans attacked in great strength against the battalion's
right flank from the north-east. Severe struggles followed. At one
point Horspool's post was surrounded, but he succeeded in driving
the enemy off after heavy fighting. But they pressed on and
managed to place themselves between battalion headquarters and
the spur. For a time the headquarters were almost surrounded; but
the battalion staff put up a gallant resistance and kept the Gennans
at bay till dusk, when the enemy were finally driven off to the east,
speeded by a local counter-attack on the right flank. The battalion's
casualties had, however, again been heavy and it was deemed best
not to try to hold the spur during the night, particularly as it was
felt that the bigger events of the next day should solve this problem.
For on 4th November the great attack on the wide front was to
be launched. The 16th Battalion, in the centre of the brigade, was to
cross the canal by a bridge to be erected by the Royal Engineers
about I,500 yards north-east of Ors and advance with its left flank
on the canal and its right in touch with the 2nd Manchester Regi–
ment to the final objective, the Guise-Landrecies road. On the left
the 15th Battalion were to clear the Happegarbes spur and make
good the west bank of the canal.
16TH BN.
At 3.30 a.m. on 4th November the 16th Battalion moved to its
fonning-up line in an orchard close to the canal and lay down with
all ranks facing the latter. A heavy barrage of artillery and machine
guns opened at 5-45 a.m. Five minutes later the companies of the
16th dashed up to the bank of the canal, Second-Lieutenant P. G.
Horsier greatly distinguishing himself, and opened fire to cover the
Royal Engineers while they put up bridges. The Sappers completed
their task in half an hour in the face of great difficulties. As soon as
the bridge to be used by the 16th was ready, Second-Lieutenant
C.
J.
Stapley was one of the first to cross it, though under intense
machine-gun fire. But as Captain H.
C.
Pemberton began to cross it,
the floats at the enemy's end of the bridge broke loose. By now
heavy machine-gun fire was being directed by the
en~my
at the
bridges. In spite of it, Pemberton and Stapley succeeded in repairing
it; and Second-Lieutenant G. H. Potts and three men were able to
get across it before it was again broken by shell fire. The battalion
was thus held up. Lieutenant-Colonel Marshall at once came forward
and organized parties to repair the bridge. The first party fonned
were soon all killed or wounded. But such was the inspiration of
Marshall's example that volunteers sprang forward to take their
place. He stood on the bank under intense fire and with a complete
disregard of his own safety, encouraging them and helping in the
work. In spite of the Gennan fue, the repairs to the bridge were
completed. Marshall tried to rush across at the head of the company
waiting to cross. He was shot through the head and instantly killed.
Losses had been heavy throughout the battalion and the first
task of the second-in-command, Captain
J.
B. Dunn, M.C., on
coming up to take over command was to reorganize the depleted