Published By Ben Hillidge
Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge. 2 Bn King’s Shropshire light Infantry. 24 – 25 May 1915.
The 2 Bn King’s Shropshire light Infantry had been in bivouacs at Busseboom near to Poperinge when the Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge, Second Ypres began. At 6.30am on 24 May they were ordered forward with the rest of the brigade to a position to the south of Ypres. At 4.30pm orders were received for the Brigade to re-take a section of trench around Bellewaarde Lake and Railway Wood. There was little time to get organised or make adequate preparations. The Brigadier General, the CO of the Brigade, had also been called away and there was nobody in overall command. The battalion commanders came up with a plan. The brigade would advance in two columns, KSLI were to lead the left column. They made their way along the Ypres-Roulers railway line to their starting point. It was a difficult journey and took most of the night to get into position.
Zero hour was at 1am on 25 May. In 2 Bn KSLI two companies. X & Y, lead the way. The assault was made under heavy machine gun fire but they managed to secure a footing in the enemy front line. The c/o of X Coy, Captain D Leslie, was very soon severely wounded; Y Coy, lead by Lieutenant EA Williams Freeman, made better progress, they advanced through Railway Wood and managed to get into the enemy front line. Further progress was however stopped and efforts to take the enemy’s second line failed owing to heavy machine-gun and rifle fire from the front and both flanks. As dawn broke the enemy began to bring up reinforcements and it became clear that the battalion’s lodgement was untenable. They were withdrawn back to Witte Port Farm where they dug in. They were relieved on the evening of 26 April and returned to billets at Busseboom. The battalion has casualties of 2 officers killed and 7 wounded and ORs 192 killed, wounded or missing.
GOOGLE MAPS Centres on the RE Grave at Railway Wood. Bellewaarde Wood and Lake in right bottom corner, Menin Road along the bottom and the line of the Ypres – Roulers railway now the N37 road. Whitport Farm is the complex of buildings to the left of Railway Wood.
References and Sources WAR DIARY 2 Bn KSLI. History KSLI.
B&O 1915. Ypres. Second Ypres. Bellewaarde Ridge. 2 Bn KSLI. 24-25 May 1915.