Page 485 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, I9I4-I9I8
which covered the rail and river route to the interior of Serbia, and
ultimately to Belgrade and the heart of the Central Powers. In
various trenches and actions on this contested front the I2th
Battalion was to prove its worth and expend its energies for the
next two years. No longer, however, were the destinies of the
battalion to be in the hands of its first commander. Colonel E.
Macartney-Filgate, who had raised and trained the battalion and,
by his personal example, had inspired all ranks with a remarkable
enthusiasm and regimental spirit, was placed on the sick list on the
24th March, and shortly after was evacuated to England. Major
C. A. Chaytor, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, who had
joined the battalion in England, assumed command in his place.
THE DOIRAN-VARDAR FRONT
The ground south-west of Lake Doiran, says the Official History,
is as tumbled and broken as any in Macedonia. 4,000 to 5,000
yards from the lake and following pretty closely its curves runs
a steep-sided, knife-edged ridge, at its highest point well over
2,000 feet, and still over I,80o at Horseshoe Hill----{;aptured by
the British in August-where it begins to descend. To various
points on this ridge the French, when their troops held the
front, had given the name Piton (peak) I, Piton
2,
etc. Hence had
arisen the title of "P" or "Pip" Ridge which
will
remain of grim
significance so long as any memory of the Macedonian Campaign
is in the mind of man.
Between the ridge and the lake is an extraordinary jumble of
hills of all shapes and sizes, broken up by deep gullies. The biggest,
the Jumeaux Ravine, four hundred feet deep, formed a fosse in
front of 2,500 yards of the enemy's defences.
Looking north-westward from the British lines above the lake
shore, the spectacle presented was of a rough and irregular terrace,
rising to a peak about half-way between the lake and the "P"
Ridge. This peak was the Grand Couronne, which will always
share the notoriety of its neighbour, P.2. Both dominated not only
the British lines but all the country southward towards Salonika,
as far as eye could see, overlooking trenches, battery positions and
communications so completely as to have a serious psychological
effect upon the troops, who felt that all their existence was passed
beneath the enemy's eye.
The whole position was admirably fortified. The work had been
begun by the two Gennan divisions which had been on this front
after the Allied retreat from Serbia; and their Bulgarian succes–
sors had profited by their example and continued their labours.
On the rest of the ten-mile front from Lake Doiran to the Vardar
nature had hardly been so kind to the defence, although every–
where there was a broad glacis sloping up to the enemy lines, which
were well sited on rising ground culminating in a strong position
known as the "Piton des Mitrailleuses," or "Machine-gun Hill,"
above the village of Machukovo on the left bank of the Vardar.