Page 97 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, I9I4-I9I8
the Ist/5th suffered most.
A
worse storm occurred during the night
of 26th/27th November when Gully Ravine quickly became a bed
of deep mud and almost impossible to cross. But though the
Territorial battalions recorded bitter cold, the sloping ground of
their Helles sector made their ordeal much lighter than that endured
1ST
B:-< .
by the 1st Battalion on the flat ground of the Suvla front, where
no revetting material was to be had to keep trench sides up. The
battalion was in the line near "Dublin Castle," two thousand yards
north-north-east of the Salt Lake. Two hours after the storm broke
the water had flooded all its trenches, coming in "as though it had
been a tidal wave." Several men were drowned and much equipment
was washed away. The water subsided to an average depth of four
feet early the following morning; but the men could do little except
lie huddled behind the remains of the parados of their trench and
throw up enough cover to protect them somewhat from shrapnel
fire. Parties had to be given leave to retire from the line as they were
too exhausted to work or fight. Several failed to reach hospital and
died of exhaustion on the way. Serjeant C.
A.
Batham, who was in
command of the battalion's stretcher-bearers, made five journeys up
to his waist in icy-cold water to help wounded men. He even
carried one wounded man on his back from the line to a dressing
station. His splendid work earned him the Distinguished Conduct
Medal.
A
bitter north-east wind blew throughout the day, causing
further deaths from exposure. Towards the evening of 27th November
the weather grew worse and a snow blizzard set in and continued all
night and most of the next day.
It
had the merit of screening the
movements of parties who took advantage of an order issued by the
brigadier that
all
men not fit to fire a rifle were to be sent back to
field ambulances and that the whole brigade would abandon all but
key positions. Another advantage brought by the storm was that
not a fly survived it. But the 1st Battalion lost about 20 men
drowned, at least 19 frozen to death and
II
officers (including Major
W. B. Pearson) and 525 other ranks evacuated to hospital suffering
from the effects of exposure.
MORE MINING: "BOYD'S CRATER"
1ST/ 7TH
Throughout the first fortnight of December, 1915, the 1st/7th
BN.
Battalion (Major W.
J.
Law) had dug and sniped their way forward
by slow and steady stages. On 14th December Lieutenant W.
R.
Hartley led a patrol with great boldness and judgment close up to
the Turkish trenches near "Cawley's Crater." One of the party,
Private F. Mottershead, located the entrance to a mine-shaft in a
trench system called "The Gridiron," close to the eastern edge of
Gully Ravine, only six yards from a crater occupied by the battalion.
Captain
A.
W. Boyd, Corporal W. Downton, D.C.M., and Privates
C. Bent and F. Mottershead volunteered next day to carry out the
destruction of this mine-head. Mottershead carried a charge of
40 lb. of gelignite round his neck; and the party succeeded in
placing it in position on the inner slope of the Turkish parapet