Page 473 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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behind. At II.30 a.m. one platoon from each of the leading
companies of the 1st/5th advanced to make good the line of the road
beyond the railway. The remainder of the battalion followed and was
on the first objective by 1.10 p.m. when "B" Company came up into
line on the left of "D" for the next stage of the advance. This began
at 1.40 p.m. Soon signs of opposition developed, in the form of
machine-gun fire from Fort d'Hautmont. By 4.30 p.m. the resistance
had stiffened on the whole front of the 1st/5th; and at 6.30 p.m. its
"C" Company was held up by machine-gun fire from the Ferme de
Foret, a mile south-east of Hautmont, though this was cleared in a
little over half an hour by the combined efforts of "B" and "C"
ComFanies. The Battalion reached its final objective by 10 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Ist/7th Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel T.
Kelly, M.C., Manchester Regiment) had also advanced at 11.30 a.m.
with "A" Company (Captain W. ]. O'Bryen, M.C.) leading. On
the capture of the first objective, "D" Company (Captain W. Kelly)
on the right and "C" Company (Major
Alderson, D.S.O.) on the
left took up the running in a north-easterly direction through the
Bois du Quesnoy (which lies to the south-west of Hautmont) with
a view to swinging to the east at Fort Hautmont and reaching the
final objective on the left of the 1st/5th. There was no opposition
until the battalion passed through the southern outskirts of
Hautmont, when machine-gun fire was opened from the direction
of the Fort and the ridge north of it. Towards dusk, however, the
oPFosition from this quarter died down and patrols were able to
push on. At 9 p.m. "C" Company was ordered to outflank the
positions still held by the enemy. They did so and the final objective
was reached at about 3.30 a.m. on the 9th. Scouts and fighting
patrols went out immediately to a distance of three miles without
opposition. Twenty-two prisoners were taken during the operation
and great quantities of booty, including eighty-four trucks of
ammunition at Les Trieux (well ahead of the final objective), on
each one of which an officer chalked the claim "Captured by the
7th L.F."
So well had the other two battalions of the brigade done their
work that the 1st/8th Battalion (Lieutenant-Colonel
S. MacLeod)
practically had a "walk-over," after an initial difficulty (costing
many miles of marching) in finding a crossing over the Sambre. A
patrol which entered Hautmont found that the town had been
evacuated by the Germans, though a few snipers and machine guns
remained on the eastern outskirts. They were soon dealt with and
"A" (Captain D. G. Bird) and
(Captain D. Cumming, M.C.)
Companies established posts east of the town with the remainder
of the battalion in the centre of the town. Late that night the front
east of Hautmont was taken over by the 1st/7th,
and "B"
Companies of the 1st/8th forming a defensive flank facing north on
the northern edge of Hautmont.
At 9 a.m. on 9th November, cavalry passed through to keep
touch with the enemy. Later in the day the 1st/7th took over the