Page 492 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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MACEDONIA
455
"P.H." helmet, no casualties were suffered, probably because the gas
collected in the ravines while the companies were mostly bivouacked
on the slopes of the hills. Box respirators were rushed up and
distributed as quickly as possible. At various points the Bulgars
pushed forward strong parties during the night, presumably to
ascertain what damage had been done, but nowhere did they enter
the British lines.
Although the opening moves of 1917 :;eemed to show that the
initiative was being taken by the enemy, General Sarrail was not
without a plan, and the British troops were soon to learn that a
major offensive role was to be demanded of them. The Allies had
missed winning an important victory in 1916 but had gained a
considerable success, and fortune was to be tempted again
in
the
spring. On the British front the main attack was to be in the
neighbourhood of Lake Doh'an, and during March and April the
dispositions of the XII Corps were altered in order to concentrate the
more experienced troops of the 22nd and 26th Divisions for the
attack and transfer the 60th Division to the left flank. When the
moves were over the 26th Division held a front of 8,000 yards
(including Lake Doiran) from Pataros to the Vladaja Ravine;
the 2znd one of two thousand yards from the Vladaja Ravine to
the road running southward from Krastali; and the 60th thence
to the Vardar.
THE BATTLE OF DOIRAK, 1917
Those regiments, including the Lancashire Fusiliers, whose
Service battalions fought in the battle of 24th-25th April, 1917, in
Macedonia, bear the words "Doiran,
191i'
as a battle honour, and
the 2znd and 26th Divisions of the Great War take their place on the
roll of history with the men of Minden and the Alma.
The 12th Battalion occupied the Whaleback trenches, about
half a mile south-east of Krastali on 18th April and were active
in patrolling and improving the defences in the days before the
battle. On the 22nd battalion headquarters and "C" Company
(Captain G. F. Page, D.S.O,), moved up from Clichy H.avine to
Whaleback, sustaining five casualties during the move from enemy
artillery fire, which was increasing in reply to the bombardment
from the British guns which had begun as a prelude to the battle.
From the front line on Whaleback the Fusiliers could observe the
enemy positions about Krastali and the western side of the P. ridge,
but the area of advance was screened from their view by the inter–
vening heights of Horseshoe
Hill,
and their memory of the battle is of
the crash and flash of the bombardments and counter-bombardments
of both sides while the tragic issue was disputed around the
J
umeaux
Ravine and the ruins of Doljeli.
General Wilson's orders to the XII Corps envisaged an advance
in two phases, the second of which-the consolidation of a position
along the Doiran-Krastali road-was to take place at a subsequent
date. All that he now contemplated was the capture of the enemy's