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Menin Gate, Ypres Menin Gate, Ypres
First Name: Arthur Thomas Last Name: KEYMER
Date of Death: 13/05/1915 Lived/Born In: Spitalfields
Rank: Private Unit: Middlesex3
Memorial Site: Menin Gate, Ypres

Current Information:

Born-Bethnal Green


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.

At 7 am on 8th May there was a massive German bombardment on the front held by 28th Division followed by a strong infantry attack. 83 Brigade, in the front line at the time, gave way and they were driven from their positions on the Frezenberg  Ridge.  To try to stem the German advance the 3rd Middlesex battalion from 85 Brigade were ordered to retake some lost trenches around Arret, south of Frezenberg and at 1.50 pm they moved forward but without any support.  At 5 pm “A” Company managed to get a message to battalion HQ that they were holding these trenches and were in touch with troops from the Shropshire Light Infantry and the Yorks & Lancs, but that the shell fire was too heavy to make any further advance. At the same time, “C” Company were partly in trenches and partly along the Zonnebeke railway but had suffered heavy casualties. Without artillery support and with such heavy casualties no further advance could be made  They dug in and stayed the night and the next two days on the Verlenhoeken road and in dug-outs near the railway under constant artillery fire. On 11th May, when it seemed that the enemy had broken through the British line in places, 3rd Middlesex moved to positions near the railway crossing where they dug-in and held on until the next day when they were relieved by dismounted cavalry and moved back to billets in Vlamertinghe. Many of the men killed during this battle, including Arthur Keymer, have their date of death recorded as 13th May after the battalion had been relieved. Once away from the fighting they were able to take stock of the situation and fully count the cost of the battle and this probably explains the discrepancy in the dates.

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