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Remembered Today:

Frazenberg Ridge


Roger Stretton
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My wife and I will be visiting Ypres soon where her grandfather was injured at the battle of Frazenberg Ridge on Ascension Day 13th May 1915. I have found an amazing amount of information about the battle but not about how to find the site now. We are not keen on a general tour. Is there an online source of information or would the museum in Ypres be the best place? Help would be much appreciated.

Roger Stretton

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I'm afraid I know nothing about 13 May as the unit of my interest pulled out of the line on the 12th, though these maps from 83 Brigades' diary may help you. The first shows the positions before the attack on 8 May and the second the dispositions on 10 May. The trench line had not changed by the 12 May. It's quite easy to work out where the trenches are using Google Earth in conjunction with these, so hopefully (if I've got the correct section of the Frezenberg Ridge for you)

regards,

Kevin

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Roger, the Frezenburg Ridge area now bears scant resemblance to the way it had been in 1914-15. This is mainly because of the construction of a motorway, a junction there and the widening of roads. It depends to some extent on the unit you are following but you may find the specific location of interest to you is under concrete.

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General view from the 1920 Ypres League map. Points to note: Frezenburg, a hamlet on the Ypres-Potijze-Zonnebeke road; the railway line; very bottom left(passing Hellfire Corner) the Menin Road.

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Modern map of same area. Frezenberg too small to be named but you can see where it is on the N332 from the road pattern. It is just above the red "A19" lettering. Note that the word "Frezenberg" is NOT where the original hamlet was. The railway line is now a road. Hellfire Corner is now a traffic roundabout! But note how the motorway and junction has been plonked right in the relevant area.

If you can tell us which unit you are following, we may be able to give specific advice about how best to see the area.

EDIT: just spotted your tag mentioning the Leicestershire Yeomanry! Their brigade deployed between the railway and Verlorenhoek (where you see Oscar Farm in the top map). You are lucky in a sense, because that is not under the motorway. It's along the road you can see on the bottom map, running south-east-ish from the red text N332. Easy to find, not much to see except fields - but of course fields of much importance.

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You will see Railway Wood on both maps. This photo was taken a few weeks ago, from the NE corner of Railway Wood looking across in a NE-ish direction towards Westhoek and Frezenberg. In the middle ground you can see traffic on the road which was once the line of the railway. Frezenberg and the site of the Leicestershire Yeomanry's fight on 13 May 1915 lay beyond. If you have good imagination you can see a slight rise in the ground on the horizon - that is the Westhoek - Frezenberg ridge.

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Not the best overlay I've done, I'm afraid, as no matter how much I manipulate the map showing dispositions on 10 May, I can't get it to fit all the road features! (though I suspect that some have moved) However, the marker for Oskar Farm is correct using the coordinates from my Linesman on my tablet, so it will give you a better idea of where it is on today's maps. I was here last week and although the crops north of the N332 are cabbages, they've planted maize along goodly proportions of the south of this road and the crop is all of five feet high!

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Roger

I have been messing around with a couple of my photos of the area zooming in and using the snipping tool but Chris has beaten me too the punch as it were. I'll post mine anyway just in case it helps. It was taken from the same place as Chris' photo (and possibly at the same time since he was stood next to me when I clicked the shutter), so I'm reasonably confident its the right area. The road that marks the railway is in the foreground and the rise to the ridge is just picked out by the sun; it is a very subtle feature. The electricity cables can be seen on Chris' modern map. I have a casualty from the third battle of Ypres who fell close to the area and the motorway cuts across that too.

Pete.

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Roger

Just to give you a sense of the proximity of Ypres itself this is a photograph looking due west from the south west corner of Railway Wood about 150 metres from the previous one. The road that follows the railway line runs across the middle ground and Hellfire Corner is just off the left edge as you look beyond the farm building beyond the trees. The spires of Sint Maarten's cathedral, the Cloth Hall and the church which I can never remember the name of (Sint Jacob?) are on the horizon just right of centre. Hope it helps.

Pete.

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Not as good as the other photos I'm afraid, but here's the view from the other side, Roger. Taken on a rather wet day, where the trench line on 9 May crossed what is now the N332 and looking east-north-east and back towards what would have been the 12 May positions. The left hand house towards the right of the picture is the approximate site of an MG that was enfilading the British trenches between 4-9 May.

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From this angle, showing the main German positions on the Frezenberg Ridge on 9 May, the height advantage it gives can be seen better.

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Not as good as the other photos I'm afraid,

They look pretty good to me Kevin. I think the mist and the grey tint creates an atmosphere that you don't get on a sunny day. At least you knew what you were pointing the camera at; I wasn't sure what I had until I saw Chris' photograph and it was a real revelation to me that Frezenberg isn't where it used to be. When I read that lots of things fell into place.

Pete.

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They look pretty good to me Kevin. I think the mist and the grey tint creates an atmosphere that you don't get on a sunny day. At least you knew what you were pointing the camera at; I wasn't sure what I had until I saw Chris' photograph and it was a real revelation to me that Frezenberg isn't where it used to be. When I read that lots of things fell into place.

Pete.

I'm afraid I cheat these days, Pete. I use a combination of grid references from the diaries etc, overlaid trench maps on Google Earth and Linesman2Go on a tablet to confirm the overlay. Then if the site of interest is on a road, I put the coordinates in my car''s Satnav as Lat/Long so I know I'm in the correct place and then confirm with Linesman on the ground. The real nightmare is Bretencourt- virtually nothing is where it used to be, with entire road systems moved!

Kevin

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Chris (# 3) is correct. Where "Frezenberg" is printed on the modern IGN map is wrong.

It is where he points out. On the Zonnebeke road, north of the motorway.

Aurel

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Chris,

It was a pleasure.

I feel flattered ! :-)

(And welcome in the club of retired members. :-) )

Serious. It's not the first time that I see "serious" (?) errors on IGN maps. (Frezenberg is one that has irritated me for years.)

Also mistakes of street names on Google Maps.

Aurel

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Roger

Is the above of assistance? You've got some serious expertise on the thread in Aurel, Chris and Kevin so is there anything else you need? I don't qualify because I didn't know where Frezenberg used to be (or where it is now for that matter).

Pete.

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Inspiring response, lads. What a team!! :thumbsup:

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  • 1 month later...

Kevin and Pete,

Many thanks for all the information that you provided and apologies for the delay in responding. We spent about 2 days looking around the Frazenberg Ridge area and were not able to find any definite signs, probably due to our lack of knowledge. Not even a village sign, though we did find Frazenbergstraat.

We have a 9 pages of foolscap of "notes taken by R E Martin (Lt Col.) of what happened on Ascension Day May 13th 1915 when the Leicestershire Yeomanry defended trenches near to Ypres and met with heavy loss". He seems to have prepared the notes for Violet Martin, his sister-in-law, about her husband and his brother, Major William Martin, who was killed in the battle. They contain great detail with names and I have tried to attach them to this message without success. Are they unusual? The Martin family owned a quarry at Mount Sorrel in Leicestershire, which still exists, which I presume is the origin of Mount Sorrel near Hill 62. I was surprised to find that Mount Sorrel is a long way from Frazenberg Ridge and presume that the Leicestershire Yeomanry must have named it at another time but I cannot find a record.

We also have my wife's grandfather Sgt William Moore's Mobilisation Order with envelope dated 4 Aug 14 and surprisingly the Loughborough Post Office stamp is timed at 10.30 pm, 30 minutes before war was declared !? Is wonder if this is also unusual.

I would be grateful for any information.

Roger

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The Martin family owned a quarry at Mount Sorrel in Leicestershire, which still exists, which I presume is the origin of Mount Sorrel near Hill 62. I was surprised to find that Mount Sorrel is a long way from Frazenberg Ridge and presume that the Leicestershire Yeomanry must have named it at another time but I cannot find a record.

That was because Lieutenant Colonel Martin was not in the Yeomanry but was CO of, if I remember correctly, 1/4th Leicestershire Regiment (it might have been 1/5th - I am away from my books); they were at Mount Sorrel and gave it its name.

Mount Sorrel has a rather fine war memorial; certainly the location is impressive (must get a picture the next time that I am nearby).

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Hi Roger

I had seen the story about how Mount Sorrel came to get it's name on the village website; it confirms Nigel's point about Martin and the 1/4th and 1/5th Leicesters. The link to the village website is here. I spent a lot of time in the Mountsorrel area when I was doing geology at Leicester; Bradgate Park was a favourite haunt and I remember the war memorial well.

I was up near the village's namesake last year and I think the area is in this photograph if I'm reading the maps correctly. The viewpoint is the Hill 62 Canadian Memorial looking southwest; it is also sometimes called Tor Top.

Pete

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There is no reason, I suppose, why mobilisation should not precede a declaration of war - in fact that would be the norm (if nothing else, it indicates that .we mean what we say'). I am away from books, but certainly the timing is not a surprise (or if it is, I am surprised it was not earlier).

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