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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Albert Last Name: PRINCE
Date of Death: 13/05/1915 Lived/Born In: Notting Hill
Rank: Private Unit: Dragoon Guards3
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Age-20

16 Olaf Street, Latimer Road, Notting Hill

Battle of Frezenberg Ridge (8 May-13 May)

In April 1915 the Germans, using gas for the first time, launched an all out attack on the salient around the Belgian town of Ypres. It became a gargantuan struggle that lasted well into the next month and at the end of it, the salient, though drastically reduced, still stood.

The name is deceptive because the Frezenberg ridge, which lay to the north-east of the town rose to only 50 metres above sea level and was one of a series of low ridges that ran in a generally westerly direction and branched off the main ridge that ran north-easterly from Kemmel to Passchendaele. Nevertheless, it gave a commanding view down on to the town of Ypres and for that reason it was strategically important.

On the night of 12th-13th May, 1915, 1st & 3rd Cavalry Divisions, including 3rd Dragoon Guards of 6 Cavalry Brigade, 3rd Cavalry Division, relieved the hard pressed battalions of 28th Division  just in time to take the full force of the last German attempt to break through on this front and capture Ypres. At 3.30am of 13th May there began an incessant and heavy bombardment of the front and back areas of the British positions.  X Corps diary states it was the heaviest yet experienced.  The trenches taken over the night before by the Cavalry were in poor condition. Only recently dug they had no communication trenches nor were they wired.  The heaviest bombardment fell on the front between Hooge and the Ypres-St Julien road and this, together with the rain reduced the trenches to a quagmire.  At 8am the enemy broke in on 7 Cavalry Brigade’s front, held by the Leicestershire Yeomanry and the 2nd & 1st Lifeguards, all about 300 strong.  Being on a long gentle forward slope it was only lightly held.  The Germans then bombed out the remaining defenders and the Leicestershire Yeomanry were driven into the trenches held by 6 Cavalry Brigade.   Also shelled out of their trenches were were the 5th Dragoon Guards in the centre of 1st Cavalry Division front and a squadron of 18th Hussars of 2 Cavalry Brigade on the extreme left, nearest 4th Division. Although hit hard, 4th Division managed to eventually contain this attack as did 80 Brigade to the right of the Cavalry and 2 Cavalry Brigade (4th Dragoon Guards, 9th Lancers and 18th Hussars) held their ground as well. It was only on 7 Cavalry Brigade’s front where there was real concern.  Here communications were very difficult and dense black smoke from the shelling obscured vision.  The extent of the gap caused by the German breakthrough was not known. To the right of this gap the North Somerset Yeomanry held on as did the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays), 1 Cavalry Brigade, to the left.  8 Cavalry Brigade (Royal Horse Guards, 10th Hussars and the Essex Yeomanry) were deployed behind this gap.  At  2.30pm a counter attack was launched by part of 9 Cavalry Brigade (15th Hussars, 19th Hussars and Bedfordshire Yeomanry) and some of the old line was regained. The Germans were evicted and even pursued but heavy fire made it impossible to reach all of the old line nor to stay there.  A new line of mainly shell holes on a reverse slope 1000 yards back was occupied extending from Railway Wood on the right to the trenches of 1 Cavalry Brigade (2nd Dragoon Guards, 5th Dragoon Guards and 11th Hussars) on the left. 

 

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