Page 58 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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ARMENTIERES-TRENCH WARFARE-2nd YPRES
43
danger points were reached, violent exhortation and even physical
force had to be applied to produce a faster pace till safety was
reached again. On they went to the railway crossing west of Ypres,
where they were met by a guide. Here some men were put straight
into ambulances and taken to hospital. The rest followed the guide
for another mile and a half, until finally at 8 a.m. they arrived at
some dug-outs just east of Vlamertinghe, where they found Major
Griffin, newly rejoined from hospital after his wound on 30th April,
and about a hundred men who had had to retire and been too badly
gassed to be able to regain the front line of 2nd May. They were also
met by Major Bowes, who had prepared a plentiful supply of hot food
and drinks. As one of the party wrote shortly after:-
"We must have been pitiable objects, spitting, coughing
and dripping wet; our faces blue with cold and the results of the
gas; our clothes in a filthy condition; nearly everyone being
helped along, and all shambling like old men, but still trying
hard to hold our heads up, having faced the worst invention of
German warfare and conquered it."
The battalion remained in the dug-outs till 8th May, men still
going to hospital with lung troubles caused by the gas. As it was for
the moment of no value as a fighting unit, the battalion moved on
8th May by easy stages to bivouacs four miles north of Poperinghe
and lived in the buildings and orchard of a farm which came to be
named Suckling Pig Farm because an old sow gave birth to a litter
of pigs there at this time and, on the battalion being ordered to move,
one little suckling was killed, cooked and divided up amongst the
officers to take with them.
Steps were quickly taken to fill up the depleted ranks and,
between 9th and 22nd May, drafts totalling 4 officers and 584 other
ranks joined the battalion, which on 14th May moved to reserve
dug-outs north of Vlamertinghe, on 15th to support at La Brique
and on the night of 15th/16th May back to the trenches at Shell
Trap Farm held by "D" and "A" Companies before 2nd May.
Four days were spent here, the last two being marked by continuous
shelling. On the 20th, the battalion was relieved and went into
support in some "cubby-holes" near Hampshire Farm, about six
hundred yards behind the front line, spending the nights in digging
a new set of trenohes which were destined to be the 2nd Battalion's
front line in August and September, 1916. At about this time, the
acting adjutant, Captain W. J . Rowley, who had insisted on remain–
ing at duty in spite of obvious illness, was forced to go to hospital;
and Tyrrell for the next month added the duties of adjutant to those
of medical officer, as he did at intervals until the beginning of July.
During one of these spells, enemy mining was suspected under part
of the line held by the battalion. Divisional headquarters, on being
told, asked for further evidence and suggested that the acting
adjutant should place tins of water over the doubtful spots and use
his stethoscope to identify the alleged sounds of mining.