Page 486 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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MACEDONIA
449
The River Vardar at this point was a swift-flowing and un–
fordable stream, which marked the left of the British line.
The 12th Battalion had their first distant introduction to this
fonnidable front when, in May, 1916, the 65th Brigade moved up to
Kukush and occupied positions south of Kilindir in support of the
French Colonial troops who were then in touch with the enemy on
the frontier.
The dry, hot summer of southern Europe had now set in, and the
brigade was more troubled with grass fires, which swept with
surprising speed across the parched countryside, than with direct
enemy action.
On the 25th, however, "C" Company of the battalion, who were
holding an advanced position on the railway and were watching
with kindly interest a French annoured train being shelled out of
Kilindir station, received an unpleasant surprise when a lucky
shell broke the line ahead of the train, which tactlessly stopped in
the company area, and attracted some half-dozen heavy shells into
the company bivouacs, fortunately without serious results.
About this time slouch-hats and shorts were issued, with the
inevitable result that the troops found themselves described as
"Anzacs" in any photographs that appeared in the home newspapers.
Until the end of June the brigade remained in support of the
French, and the War Diary reports little but occasional air activity
and long-range shelling. On 20th June the brigade was relieved by
the 17th French Colonial Division, and withdrew to its old camps on
the Matterhorn in the Salonika defences. Here a month was spent
in training and reorganization. The battalion was now fully
equipped for mountain warfare; all wheeled transport was with–
drawn and replaced by pack-mules, and sun-helmets and shirt–
sleeves were the order of dress.
On 20th July Lieutenant-Colonel J.
L.
F. Tweedie, under whose
command the battalion was to make its name as a fighting unit,
arrived from the Gloucestershire Regiment to assume cOIlUlland.
Shortly after his arrival the battalion was once again on the move
to the forward area; the British having now definitely taken over
the Doiran-Vardar front of the Allied line. After a strenuous march
of five days, in the course of which the Galiko river was crossed in
flood, the battalion arrived in Kilindir and was soon engaged in such
business as reconnaissance patrols and protective duties to forward
artillery positions in the Dobrovica-Rates sector.
On 8th September, having moved to Ardzan, the battalion carried
out the first of those raids which were to give it an outstanding
reputation in the Salonika Force. At
II
p.m. two platoons of
"A" Company under Captain G. Wonnald raided listening-posts
on Crete des Tentes. The operation was carried out without loss and
one Gennan was killed and one taken prisoner.
Close behind the front now held by the 22nd Division lay the
marshy and reed-fringed waters of Lake Ardzan, the breeding–
ground of millions of mosquitoes, and soon the chief curse of the
2G