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First Name: Robert Henry Palmer Last Name: HOWARD
Date of Death: 08/05/1915 Lived/Born In: Hyde Park
Rank: Second Lieutenant Unit: East Surrey2
Memorial Site: House of Lords Memorial

Current Information:



46, Green Street, Park Lane

Potijze Chateau Lawn Cemetery, Belgium

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 8th  May, 1915 at dawn there was a violent bombardment on the front held by 28th Division on the Frezenberg Ridge. The full fury of the bombardment lasted for four hours. Parapets were flattened and trenches destroyed.  At 8.30am the German guns lifted onto the support trenches and approach roads and their infantry assaulted the front of the Frezenberg ridge with the brunt of the attack falling on 3rd Monmouth and 2nd Royal Lancaster of 83 Brigade and 1st Suffolk and 2nd Cheshire from 84 Brigade. This first attack was driven off as was the second which came after another ½ hour bombardment but it left nearly all the men in the front line either killed, wounded or buried.  It was impossible to get reinforcements to them so when the third attack came at 10am,  again either side of Frezenberg village, it succeeded, especially as it coincided with Brigade orders for the front line to be evacuated. The survivors of 3rd Monmouth and 2nd Royal Lancaster fell back to their support trench as did the extreme right of 1st Suffolk. At this stage 2nd East Surrey, 85 Brigade, were sent up in support of 83 Brigade and they were ordered to take up a position on the left of 1st York & Lancaster then recapture the trenches lost on Frezenberg Ridge. Their attack was launched at 4pm but by the time they reached the road running south-east from Wieltje, the machine gun and artillery fire they were meeting was too fierce for them to continue. Here they dug in and, with other battalions moving up beside them, here they stayed for two days and nights under intense and constant shell fire, during which time their casualties amounted to over 250. On the night of 10th May 2nd East Surrey moved back to 85 Brigade’s trenches, to the south of the Ypres-Zonnebeke road.


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