"Our rapid fire was appalling, even to us. The worst marksman could not miss. As we had only to fire into the brown, of the masses of the unfortunate enemy. Who on the fronts of our two companies were continually and uselessly reinforced at the short range of 300 yards."
The 4th Royal Fusiliers were defending a solid metal railway bridge, called Nimy. They had their machine gun section, commanded by Lieutenant Maurice Dease, deployed on the bridge. The rifle companies were deployed on the canal bank. Both guns were in sandbag positions so cramped that there was barely enough room for the crews.
The first contact with the Germans was when a five man cavalry patrol was challenged by a sentry. The Germans turned to flee, but all five were hit by the sentries fire, the four soldiers were killed by the rapid firing sentry, and the officer wounded, and taken prisoner.
|Lieutenant Maurice Dease|
While manning the gun Lt Dease was hit for a fourth time, but still he continued to fire. Finally a 5th wound rendered him unable to man the machine gun. Lt Dease was evacuated to the rear, but died from blood loss shortly afterwards.
|Nimy Bridge is in the background|
|Private Sidney Godley|
Despite this Pvt Godley manned the Vickers gun and it began its work again.
By now the casualties and pressure from the Germans was so great the 4th Royal Fusiliers had to withdraw. About 1400 they began to pull back. Pvt Godley stayed in position firing away despite getting hit twice himself. One wound was a German bullet hitting him in the head and becoming lodged in his skull. Meanwhile his regiment continued to pull back. Eventually about 1500 the withdrawal was complete. However Pvt Godley was still in position, alone, firing at the Germans and holding up several divisions. Eventually Pvt Godley's machine gun ran out of ammunition. Pvt Godley unlocked the gun from its tripod, picked up the hot weapon and smashed it several times against a bridge stanchion and then he heaved the gun into the canal, all to prevent its capture by the Germans.
He then retired after his comrades. However once on the other side of the bridge he was captured by the Germans, whom gave him medical treatment. Pvt Godley then spent the rest of the war as a POW.