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Remembered Today:

1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers. October 1918


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Pte Richard Stanley SILLIFANT is one of my 'Holsworthy Boys' and died of wounds on 23rd October 1918 whilst with the 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers.

Can anyone give me any idea of the units operations leading up to this date which will help me out together the events leading up to his death...

Thanks guys

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The NA holds the war diary:

Scope and content

1/5 Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers

Covering dates 1917 Mar. - 1919 Mar.

Held by

The National Archives, Kew

Legal status Public Record(s)

Not yet available as a download. I'm not there for another couple of weeks, but if no one comes up with anything I'll see what I can do,

Dave Swarbrick

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According to G Blaxland's book "Amiens 1918"--on the 23rd of October 1918 the atmies were plunged deeper into the bewildering maze of hedges,houses and trees that stretched ahead ofthem. A steady advance of some 6 miles in two days was made. Resistance was strong in places, and at BEAURAIN the 42nd Lancashire Division were involved in a fierce clash; in which men on both sides were Bayoneted-1/5 LF belonged to 42 Div.


quo fata vocant

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From 42nd Division History. Also recommend you try the Lancashire Fusiliers History (Latter) which will give afar more detailed account of 1/5th actions.

The advance of the Third Army was resumed in the early hours of the 23rd October, the Fourth and First Armies co-operating. The 42nd Division held the left of the 4th Corps front, with the 5th Division on the right, and the 3rd Division, 6th Corps, on the left. At 3.20 a.m. the Divisional and New Zealand Artillery put down a barrage which lifted at the rate of 100 yards in six minutes. The Division's final objective was, roughly, the line of the River Harpies from the north of Beaurain on the right toVertigneul in the centre, and to the outskirts of Romeries, north- east of Vertigneul, on the left. The advance was to be made in three bounds, and the New Zealanders would then pass through the 125th Brigade at 8.40 a.m. and continue the advance, supported by the divisional artillery and two companies of the 42nd M.G. Battalion.

At 8.26 a.m. the Fusilier Brigade, with" C" Company, M.G. Battalion, moved off, the 7th Battalion on the right, the 8th on the left, and the 5th in support. Once again the right flank had the greater difficulty, and the progress of the 7th was slow. They were enfiladed from machine-gun posts on the high ground west of Beaurain, from Beaurain itself, and, later, from the quarries north of Beaurain. These poured destructive fire upon them as they strove gallantly to go forward. A couple of tanks were sent to their assist- ance, and these eased the situation by destroying the nearer machine- gun nests. But the enemy, holding Beaurain very strongly, had checked the advance of the 5th Division, so the flank of the 7th L.F. was in the air, and its right company had been much weakened by heavy losses. The left company, however, made progress in the centre by the Marou-Beaurain road. There were numerous instances of devotion to duty and disregard of personal safety on the part of all ranks. Lieutenant W. J. O'Bryen gained a second bar to his M.C. by leading his men round by a flank against a machine-gun nest which had held them up at 100 yards' range, and capturing the position; and C.S.M. Thos. Roe, M.M., dealt similarly with another nest. Corporal F. Hesford kept his men together under deadly shell fire, and though knocked down by a shell which killed the man next to him, Hesford worked his section steadily through the fire to the flanks of the machine-guns, and captured all three.

Conditions on the left were much more satisfactory. The 8th L.F. had advanced steadily, and as the 8rd Division was making corresponding progress on the left, their flank was not unduly exposed. Still, they had to fight their way step by step, held up time after time by the numerous machine-gun nests, but always overcoming the resistance, and turning the enemy out of his holes at the bayonet's point. Soon after the start Captain D. G. Bird's company came under fierce fire from machine-gun nests. Led by their officer, the company rushed the posts and bayoneted the entire garrison. Pushing on, Bird led his men to the final objective, north of Beaurain, and held it under very heavy fire. C.S.M. Riley, whose courage and coolness in the assembly had been conspicuous, made personal reconnaissances under heavy fire during the attack, and brought 'valuable information regarding the situation on the flanks. He was the first man on the final objective. Sergeant C. Carter, seeing that the troops on his right were held up, rushed the enemy post with two men, and captured the gun. He then took nine prisoners from a dug-out close to the post. Lance-Corporal W. Walmsley, though wounded in the side by a bayonet, led his section against a machine- gun nest which had been holding up the advance, and captured it, the enemy being killed with the bayonet. Privates C. H. Perkins and F. Peace worked a Lewis-gun under heavy artillery and machine- gun fire, and though Perkins was severely wounded in the knee, the two men continued to' fight the gun until they had killed or captured the whole of the opposing machine-gun crew. Privates H. A. Jackson and G. H. Robson attacked a machine-gun nest with a Lewis-gun, killed four men and captured or dispersed the rest. As similar instances of pluck and confidence were being shown in all parts of the fighting area between Marou, Beaurain and Vertigneul, and the trench-mortar crews and machine-gunners fought with rifle, bayonet and revolver; and stretcher-bearers, R.A.M.C. and signallers, though not taking part in hand-to-hand combats with the bayonet, were doing their duty with equal dis- regard of their own safety, the final objective was reached, ,at first on the left, where Vertigneul was captured by the 8th L.F., and later on the right flank, where Captain Kirsopp, G.S.O. 3, of the 42nd, gave valuable assistance by a reconnaissance outside the divisional boundary, north-west of Beaurain. Here he came across a company of the Cheshires and led them to their objective, where they linked up with the 7th L.F., and the front was securely estab- lished. The 8th L.F. had captured more than 100 prisoners, two field-guns, thirty-four machine-guns, and some trench-mortars. The 7th and 5th had also made good captures.

This attack of the 125th Brigade was as brilliant an exploit as any during the war. The difficulty of assembly in the dark had been augmented by the complicated tactics required by the need to align the barrage to suit divisions on the flanks. An outward wheel on one flank of the Brigade and an inward wheel on the other flank had to be made in pitch darkness, and while in actual conflict with the enemy, before the whole line could advance. The area was saturated with enemy gas, and machine-gun nests abounded. Orders had been frequently changed, and it was only possible to issue final orders to the Brigade at 2 p.m. at Belle Vue Farm. Company commanders then had to crawl considerable distances to attend a hastily summoned conference. This left little time to get the orders down to platoon commanders, and objectives could not be pointed out in daylight. But the Fusiliers went over the top as though on parade and took all objectives. The 'laurels gained here are worthy of a place beside those won at Minden.

At the scheduled time, 8.40 a.m., the New Zealanders passed through the 125th Brigade, and continued the advance beyond the line of the Harpies, two companies of the 42nd M.G. Battalion going with them. This was the second flying start given them by the Division. Prisoners taken by the 42nd Division during the operations of October 20-23 numbered 927, and the booty included three field- guns, 102 machine-guns, nine trench-mortars, and twenty-two anti- tank rifles. A number of enemy batteries were put out of action by our artillery. Five hundred and fifteen enemy dead were countedon the battlefield-men of the shattered and demoralized 25th German Division, and to a lesser extent of the 18th Division. The 42nd, which. had lost 138 killed and 707 wounded, withdrew west of the Selle, and on October 24 concentrated in Beauvois, a pleasant little town, only slightly damaged by the war, where really good billets were enjoyed for the first time since March. The inhabitants of Beauvois and Caudry had been in German hands for four years, and their delight at having Englishmen as guests, instead of Germans as tyrants, was displayed in a manner rather disconcerting to many lads, who found it embarrassing to be kissed and fussed over, and to be called" deliverers" and" saviours."

However, they appre- ciated the many evid~nces of kindliness and goodwill, and helped in their own way to cement the friendship and understanding between the nations; and they were truly glad to be once more in an inhabited country. Everything possible was done to make the men happy and comfortable. The canteens were well supplied; massed bands gave enjoyable concerts; and the Divisional Concert Party gave daily performances of Sweet Fanny Adams and April Fools in a factory that had been converted into a theatre. The enemy had been pressed so hard that they had left, almost intact, an excellent bathing establishment where hot baths could be obtained. The Divisional Reception Camp was moved up to Aulicourt Farm, and, while training was by no means neglected, plenty of opportunity was given for recreation. The Divisional Boxing Tournament was won by the 8th L.F., as was also the Band Contest. Most popular of all was the Football Competition, in the final of which the 7th N.F. (Pioneers) beat the R.A.M.C. by two goals to nil. Ten pleas,ant days were. spent at Beauvois, and on the night of November 3 the Division began its move forward to relieve the N.Z. Division in the Foret de Mormal.



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