The Battle of Bellewaerde Ridge

At 0245 on 24 May a ferocious German artillery bombardment slammed down on British V Corps front. The clamour of shells, machine-guns and rifle fire was fire was accompanied by a simultaneous discharge of chlorine gas on almost the entire length of the cameronians in the reserve dugouts. German infantry assaulted the allies positions as soon as the gas hit.

Although the wind found favour with the British and they were alerted to the attack, the speed of the attack and the close locality of the german forces left little time for the British to put their gas masks on many were killed to the attacks deadly impact.

But the British defence rallied and the attackers were repelled by small arms fire to the exception of the north, where Mouse Trap Farm was immediately overrun, and in the south where German infantry broke into the British line north and south of Bellewaarde Lake. The centre of the line between these gaps held fast all day.

Heroic efforts were made to retrieve the situation at Mouse Trap Farm before it was decided, that evening, to withdraw to a more defensible line. The German break in around Bellewaarde Lake prompted the commitment of Corps reserve troops, but their arrival took time and the depleted front line battalions had to wait until the early evening before the weakened 84th Brigade was able to attack and turn the enemy out of Witte Poort Farm.

Following the belated arrival of the 80th Brigade a joint night counter attack was made shortly after 23.00hrs. The assault in bright moonlight was a disaster and both the 80th and 84th Brigades suffered heavy casualties. In the early hours of the morning the battle quietened.

The following day saw a reduction in shelling and no attempts by the Germans to renew the offensive.

17th June 15

British troops of the 7th and 9th Infantry Brigades assaulted the enemy trenches on Bellewaerde Ridge between the Menin Road and the Ypres-Roulers railway. Their objective was to remove the enemy from the high ground which gave and observation point over most of the allied ground to the east of Ypres.

The bombardment commenced at 02.30hrs followed by the assault on the German front line at 04.15 which was captured with very little resistance and the troops pushed on to the second German line.

The Germans later launched a counter attack and the British were pushed back to the first German line which they managed to hold on to but the Germans still commanded the ridge.