Page 55 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS,
1914-1918
proceeded to adapt it as best he could. Lack of moisture nearly
defeated his plan as the vessels containing water and tea had been
upset in the scurry of the alarm and there was no time to go to the
moat of Shell Trap Farm. Following his example, however, all those
within reach of his voice proceeded to wet their handkerchiefs or any
handy piece of material with their urine and tie it over their face.
This expedient proved very effective, especially as the natural
ammonia helped to neutralize the chlorine in the gas. It is significant
that the only officers and men in the battalion who were able to
carry on at the end of the day were those in "B" Company's sector
who followed Tyrrell's advice .
"B" Company, thus horribly protected, manned the bank in
front of it and fired for
all
it was worth, helped in its determination
to face this unfamiliar form of attack by the officers and other
leaders who went quickly round pointing out that to move with the
waves of gas involved greater risks and longer exposure to it than
staying where they were. The right platoon received a message to
retire and did so, Corporal T. Channer and Private Burtenshaw
taking their machine
gun
into action again a short distance to the
left of Lynn. The latter, kept supplied with ammunition by other
members of his team, opened fire with his gun into the gas cloud.
When he found that he could not see, he fixed the gun on to a tree
stump on the top of the bank so as to be sure of a good field of fire,
climbed up, sat straddled behind it, and sprayed a continuous
stream of bullets into the cloud, swinging the barrel to and fro in
such a way as to hit a wider target amongst the Germans who soon
became visible behind the gas, but who were stopped by the fire of
British and French artillery as well as by the rapid rifle fire of most
of the British line and above all by Lynn's machine gun. He had no
respirator; but he refused to cease firing until
all
signs of attack had
ceased and then turned his attention to looking after those of his
comrades who were feeling the effects of gas. At last he himself
collapsed and had to be lifted from the parapet and taken to a dug–
out : an hour later, blue with the effects of poison, he was carried
down on a stretcher to hospital, where he died next day in great
agony. His very fine example had an invaluable effect in steadying
those around
him
and his self-sacrificing act was recognized by the
posthumous award of the Victoria Cross and by the unusual distinc–
tion of a description of the incident in Field-Marshal Sir John
French's Despatch of 15th June, 1915. This very gallant man, who
joined the 4th Battalion as a boy from the training ship
Exmouth
in
1901 at the age of fourteen and a half and was noted as a gymnast, a
sportsman and a bright, cheery, light-hearted soldier, had fought
splendidly on all occasions from the beginning of the campaign and
had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his work at
Le Touquet and also the Russian Order of St. George.
The medical officer, Lieutenant W. Tyrrell, was another tower
of strength that day: one man de cribed him long after the war as
"more than a hero. " He seemed to
be
everywhere, doing (as an