Great War Western Front Battle of Courtrai 14th to 20th October 1918 single Military Medal awarded to Private J. Critchley, 17th Service Battalion - 2nd South East Lancashire, Lancashire Fusiliers, formerly Manchester Regiment, whose battalion was...

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Product ID: CMA/32211
Condition: some contact wear and edge bruising, about Very Fine
Description:

Great War Western Front Battle of Courtrai 14th to 20th October 1918 single Military Medal awarded to Private J. Critchley, 17th Service Battalion - 2nd South East Lancashire, Lancashire Fusiliers, formerly Manchester Regiment, whose battalion was up until early 1917 a Bantam Battalion. Critchley was decorated for his bravery in action during the Battle of Courtrai from 14th to 20th October 1918 for which he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field in the London Gazette for 24th August 1919.

Military Medal, GVR 1st type bust; (48962 PTE. J. CRITCHLEY. 17/LAN: FUS:)

Condition: some contact wear and edge bruising, about Very Fine.

Joseph Critchley came from Manchester and saw service during the Great War initially as a Private (No.22906) with the Manchester Regiment and later as a Private (No.48962) with the Lancashire Fusiliers. Serving out on the Western Front with the 17th Service Battalion - 1st South East Lancashire’s, as part of the 104th Brigade in the 35th Division, his battalion was up until early 1917 a Bantam Battalion.

Critchley was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field in the London Gazette for 24th August 1919, he being confirmed as having been attached to the 104th Brigade Headquarters at the time of the award, and hence most probably employed as a runner, his award being earned during the Battle of Courtrai from 14th to 20th October 1918.

The attack began on the 14th October, with the 104th Infantry Brigade’s 17th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers leading the way. The 18th Battalion and the 19th Durham Light Infantry then passed through under a heavy barrage and in the same mist as had helped the opening of the attack. The Germans did not offer very strong resistance once the first line of defence near Moorsele had been pierced. But this needed sharp fighting when the advance was checked, and this led to the dislodging of the enemy, securing valuable positions and inflicting heavy losses on the Germans. Amongst other actions, a battery of 5.9 inch guns was rushed at Herthoek, 1200 yards south-west of Moorsele, and the whole crew was either killed or taken prisoner. By 11 am the battalion had reached its objective south-east of Moorsele, and in the afternoon an outpost line farther east was established. The casualties were light. The next day, 15th October, a slight further advance was made and the line pushed up to the Wevelghem-Gulleghem road, facet south-south east. The battalion’s then enjoyed a two day rest before moving forward during the day of the 18th October to the neighbourhood of Bisseghem, west-south-west of Courtrai, so as to be at hand in case the 106th Infantry Brigade in the same division needed help in crossing the River Lys.

This move was timely, for the 106th Brigade, after an unsuccessful attempt the night before, crossed the river at Marcke, two miles south-west of Courtrai, during the early part of the night of 18th/19th October. The 104th Brigade got sudden orders to cross that same night and continue the divisional attack the next day. By 2 a.m. on the 19th the whole brigade was over the river, the 17th Battalion crossing by a single plank footbridge wast of Marcke, and had reached its assembly positions on the eastern outskirts of the village, with its three battalions in line, the 17th Lancashire Fusiliers on the right and the 18th in the centre.

Daybreak came in thick mist at 5.30 am, and the at that time the attack was launched in a south-easterly direction. The 17th met with no opposition and reached its objective, Marionette Cabaret, by 7 a.m. The success was at once exploited and the line pushed forward another 1000 yards by 10.15 a.m, though further progress was stopped by machine gun fire. The 18th met with rather more opposition though, gallantry and ably led by Lieutenant Colonel Jewels, it reached its objective, the Hooghe ridge, by 8 a.m. Attempts to push on were frustrated by machine-gun and light artillery fire. The final line of the two units that day ran south-west to north-east about two miles south-east of Courtrai.

The attack was resumed on 20th October, the divisional objective being now the River Scheldt. The 18th Battalion acted and advanced guard to the brigade, moving in a south-easterly direction on the east side of the Courtrai-Tournai road. It encountered hostile machine-gun, trench mortar and artillery fire of sufficient power to prevent it reaching its final objective on the Kreupel ridge till the evening. Meanwhile, the 17th Battalion, attacking at 7 a.m. in a loose formation and without a barrage, reached its objective by 9 a.m., having driven back slight opposition offered by field guns and by machine-guns, of which it captured one. At the end of the day the brigade line ran west-south-west to east-north-east some four and a half miles south-east of Courtrai. Next day the advance to the Scheldt was taken up by another brigade and the 17th and 18th Battalions were put into billets on the outskirts of Courtrai