The Frith Hill Trench Walk led by Roy Sellstrom BEM

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,

Uncovering the location of WW1 Prisoner of War Camp in Frimley

It’s well known that there was a First World War prisoner of war camp on Frith Hill in Frimley. There are many photos and drawings attesting to the camp. It’s its exact location that’s been lost over time.

It’s taken local military historian, Army veteran, and local resident, Roy Sellstrom BEM considerable research to identify the exact location. Roy spoke about his research in his recent talk on the subject at the Heritage Gallery in Camberley.

I’m delighted to post Roy’s talk here, along with some photos used in his talk. The timing of the article is appropriate as on Sunday 10th September Roy is leading a Frith Hill Trench Walk for Surrey Heath Museum’s Heritage Open Day events programme.

Frith Hill has had many military camps and practice areas during both World Wars. The area was a practice area for trench warfare and the site of a German Prisoner of War camp during the First World War. In the walk, Roy will reveal the earth movements and visual signs that reveal the use
of the area during the war years and the stories and facts from the past.

Come to the RLC Museum evening lecture this evening to hear about an amazing man – Herbert Sulzbach

This evening’s lecture, at the Royal Logistic Corps Museum in Deepcut, by Ainslie Hepburn, is about the fascinating life of Herbert Sulzbach (1894-1985), who fought for Germany in World War 1, and with the British Pioneer Corps in World War 2. He was awarded both the OBE and Grand Cross of the German Federal Republic for his post-war work fostering Anglo-German co-operation.

You can learn more of Herbert Sulzbach and his uplifting story HERE, though I’d recommend coming to the lecture.

Best to arrive at the Museum between 7.0 – 7.15 for pre=lecture tea/coffee/biscuits.

RLC Museum evening lecture: Herbert Sulzbach – The Man with a Big Heart

The evening lecture by Ainslie Hepburn is about the fascinating life of Herbert Sulzbach (1894-1985), who fought for Germany in World War 1, and with the British Pioneer Corps in World War 2. He was awarded both the OBE and Grand Cross of the German Federal Republic for his post-war work fostering Anglo-German co-operation.

You can learn more of Herbert Sulzbach and his uplifting story HERE, though I’d recommend coming to the lecture.

Exhibition at Brookwood Military Cemetery celebrating CWGC’s first 100 years

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission [CWGC] Brookwood Military Cemetery at Pirbright is the focus of an exhibition to mark the centenary of the CWGC.

The exhibition was opened by Brian Blessed OBE on May 2oth, and will run for six months. Also available during the six months is the ability to join a guided tour of the cemetery by CWGC volunteers. Tours are available at 11.0am and 2.0pm daily, or at other times when visitor numbers dictate. The exhibition, and tours availability, is from 20th May to 19th November 2017.

We visited the cemetery on Saturday 3rd June, benefiting from the knowledge imparted by the tour guides. Having guides on hand to answer questions is valuable, as the variability in headstones, and much else, is explained. While visitors can wander around the cemetery as they please, we enthusiastically recommend taking a tour. The CWGC say about the cemetery and exhibition,

[The Exhibition] has been curated by CWGC staff and will be staged in the Grade 1 listed Canadian Records Building at Brookwood – the largest CWGC site in the UK with more than 5,000 burials and 3,500 commemorations on the Brookwood Memorial.

Below is my short video of our visit, which happened to be on a lovely sunny day.

Things to do: RLC Museum evening lecture on “Battlefield Success” by Fraser Skirrow

The upcoming lecture, in the always interesting Royal Logistic Corps Museum’s evening lectures, on Thursday June 1st 2017 by Fraser Skirrow is entitled “Battlefield Success –  achieving tactical excellence in an infantry battalion 1916-18”.

In January 1917 the 62nd Division went to France – a second line territorial unit, it had no experience of the realities of the Western Front and its first engagements were disastrous. By 1918 it was acknowledged to be one of the most reliable and aggressive units in the army.

This talk looks in great detail at how one battalion of the 62nd changed its tactics, weapons, and the skills of its officers and men throughout that period.