The Battle of Frezenberg Ridge, 8 - 13 May 1915
In the period 4-7 May, much encouraged by the British withdrawal, German Fourth Army Commander moved his artillery forward and grouped three Army Corps opposite the weakened British 28th and 27th Divisions holding the Frezenberg Ridge in readiness for a further attack.
At 5.30am on 8 May a violent German artillery bombardment began on the British lines causing massive destruction – especially to 83rd Brigade in vulnerable trenches on the forward slopes of the Ridge. The subsequent German infantry assault was repelled by the surviving British battalions. A second German thrust on the ridge was held but a third assault at 10am, either side of Frezenberg village, forced the remaining defenders to fall back. The German attack was stopped on the right by 80th Brigade but, to the north, 84th Brigade was almost totally destroyed in the onslaught; by afternoon a two mile gap had been punched in the British line. Tenacious defence, hastily improvised counter-attacks and a crucial night advance of 10th Brigade restored a precarious situation.
9 May saw new German attacks further south on 27th Division astride the Menin road; intense German bombardments accompanied violent assaults which were repeatedly held and, over the next three days, no significant breakthrough was made. A final crisis occurred on 13 May, a day of ceaseless rain and shelling, with a German break-in on 7th Cavalry Brigade’s quagmire of a front and enemy bombardments causing temporary evacuations of 4th Division’s line; counter-attacks and skilful use of support troops restored the situation – though at heavy cost in lives. Six days of intense fighting yielded German gains of around 1,000 yards of front between Hooge and Mouse Trap Farm but at such high cost in casualties that offensive operations were halted.
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