The walking group for the Frith Hill Trench Walk, organised by Surrey Heath Museum for Heritage Open Days, met at Tomlinscote School in Frimley,
Led by Roy Sellstrom BEM, the walk revealed the earth movements and visual signs of the use of the area as a military training area. Frith Hill was a practice area for trench warfare, and the site of a German Prisoner of War camp during the First World War.
In his researches Roy discovered a map of the trenches in Frith Hill. These have now mostly be filled in. It’s fascinating to realise that of the paths in the area, though difficult to recognise, many are on the filled in trenches.
Roy pointed to post World War II trenches, some small and for only two soldiers. He also pointed out a mine crater [see photo below], previously thought be elsewhere, see Remains of Mine Explosions, and read the following report of the event at the time.
“Blackdown Camp, October 1916, Wessex Field Company Royal Engineers: The company moved into an excellent hut-camp, … leaving No.4 section to complete Claycart Bridge. The chief interest at first was the mine that had been made on Frith Hill, some of our men assisting in the tunnelling. It was to be blown up by 5,000lbs of gun cotton, and was the first of three that were to be blown for experiment and training. To make the affair more like an operation at our front line, our company made wire entanglements all about the imaginary ‘No man’s land’ above the charge, and practised the consolidation of the mine craters after seizure by infantry.”
“On the great day , VIP’s arrived, the Sandhurst cadets came over and were shown by us how to consolidate a crater. All the windows for miles around were left open, so as not to be blown in by concussion of the explosion. At the last moment the spectators, numbering several thousand, were moved from ½ to ¾ of a mile away. The guns and trench mortars began to fire blank, machine guns and rifles the same, up went the mine, and attacking parties seized the craters with much cheering and throwing of dummy hand-grenades and bombs, while our Sapper party, under Lt Davidson, started entrenching in the lip of the craters.”
“The actual explosion and upheaval of the mines was most disappointing. The charge had been divided, by order from above, so that two little craters were made instead of one large one. We hardly felt any concussion, heard no noise, and the spectacle was far from alarming. The soil was thrown up about thirty feet, in the form of a plum-pudding, then it subsided through a dense volumes of smoke. So slight was the effect that it was said that parties in a dug-out 300 yards away did not know the charge had been blown under they were told of it by a runner.”
Here are the photos from the walk,