Page 477 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

444
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
and his horse was twice wounded under
him,
he coolly reorganized
his men and led them to more sheltered positions. Captain
K.
E.
Wheeler, the battalion intelligence officer, also distinguished himself
by making repeated journeys through the shelling in his endeavours
to establish a forward battalion headquarters. The attack was
launched at 3 p.m.; but the leading companies were soon held up
by machine-gun fire, and "A" and "B" fared no better when they
later tried to take up the task, being met with fire from trench
mortars with a flat trajectory. Parties succeeded, however, in
working from house to house, largely under Waterhouse's leadership,
till they gained the western bank of the canal. The battalion was
then left on that line as outposts for the night with the intention that
they should hold the enemy frontally while other troops attacked
on the next day, though the 2nd/5th were ordered to try to force a
crossing during the night or early in the morning. During the
advance, Waterhouse and Wheeler had, under great difficulties,
performed an act of mercy in putting in a place of safety a seriously
wounded officer.
"C" and "D" Companies pressed the enemy all night. They
found two iron bridges intact, on the two roads leading from Ath to
Peruwelz south of the town. The northern of the two bridges was
barricaded and mined. But, again under Waterhouse's skilful
leadership, a Lewis gun was mounted in a house close to the bridge
and by 7 a.m. the Germans driven from the latter before they were
able to blow it up. The barricade was destroyed and the troops
crossed into Ath. The Germans withdrew all along the line and were
closely followed. They were hustled over a bridge on the eastern
outskirts of the town without being given time to destroy it. Patrols
of the battalion reached the high ground east of Ath soon after 8 a.m.
At
IO.lS
a.m. orders were received that an armistice came into
force at
II
a.m., when Lieutenant-Colonel Brighten announced the
news to the overjoyed inhabitants of the town his battalion had
freed.
The troops were ready for a rest. In eighty days they had
covered fifty miles. In the
final
stages they covered considerable
distances each day and found outposts at night. They carried their
packs but kept up with mounted and more lightly equipped units
without a man falling out . The 2nd/5th indeed ended the war as
it began-marching long distances with
full
kit .
The following decorations were awarded for these operations :-
Military Cross
Captain H. Waterhouse.
Captain
K.
E. Wheeler.
Captain L. A. Wilson.
MilItary Medal
Company Quarterrnaster-Serjeant
Company Serjeant-MajoT T. Clough.
F. Tay.or.
Lance-Corporal
J.
D. Chambers.
Lance-Corporal
J.
W. Smith.
Prh'ate E . Butterworth.
Private A. Fairclough.
Private W. C. Gower.
Private H. Green.
Private T. Greenwood.