Page 493 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, 1914-1918
first line; the works between the lake and the Petit Couronne, that
hill, Hill 380, the Mamelon and the most advanced work on the
P. ridge. Even if this attack were successful, the British would
still be faced by a second position on the Hilt and the Tongue
features (west of the town), and behind that again the Grand
Couronne would still loom up unconquered. Only if all these lines
fell would the way be opened for an advance up the Vardar valley
into Serbia. Not yet-not, indeed, for more than a year-was this
victory to be gained.
The night attack of the 79th and 78th Brigades of the 26th
Division ended in unrelieved tragedy. The assaulting troops were
caught by the enemy barrage in and beyond the Jumeaux Ravine,
whose rocky sides were a deadly shell-trap, and those soldiers who
reached the enemy lines found them empty and were destroyed by
artillery and mortar fire.
The attack of the 66th Brigade of the 22nd Division had more
success. The assault was carried out by the 8th King's Shropshire
Light Infantry against Hill 380 and the 13th Manchester Regiment
against PAt (half a mile north-east of Krastali). The enemy's
barrage had been located the previous night and the troops deployed
beyond it, thus avoiding the disastrous casualties of the Jumeaux
Ravine. Moreover, consolidation was done beyond the captured
enemy trenches and not in them, which also disconcerted the enemy
artillery. Definite gains were therefore made on the 22nd Division
front, and these gains were held and subsequently wired and
entrenched, the new line running from Hill 380, north of Jackson
Ravine (600 yards north-west of Doljeli) round PAt, and thence
back to the British lines.
The casualties of the XII Corps, of which only three brigades had
been actively engaged, were very heavy, being over three thousand,
and the gain of ground was not decisive. Not for the first time in
British military history, strategy had demanded what was tactically
impossible.
AFTERMATH
The failure of the 26th Division's attack and the success of the
22nd Division resulted in the salient hitherto existing in the British
line between La Tortue and Horseshoe Hill becoming still more
pronounced. General Wilson therefore proposed that the former
division should make a renewed attack upon the enemy's line
between Lake Doiran and the Petit Couronne. At the same time
the 22nd Division was to simulate an attack against PA, and to
advance its line at the Whaleback and raid the village of Krastali.
The operation was timed for 8th May, and on 3rd May the 12th
Lancashire Fusiliers moved into the Horseshoe sector and relieved
the 9th East Lancashire Regiment in the new line captured from
the Bulgars, that is P.4i, P.S and Jackson Ravine.
Existence in the new line for the forward companies and even
for advanced battalion headquarters was hard to bear. Officers and