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Webmatters : Memorial plaque to Regiment Carabiniers Prins Boudewijn at Zuidschote
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Regiment Carabiniers Prins Boudewijn

Location

Zuidschote is a hamlet approximately eleven kilometres to the north-west of Ieper. It lies just off the N 369 road between Ieper and Diksmuide. Coming out of Ieper along the N 369 you will pass Essex Farm Cemetery on your right. Continue towards Boezinge and Diksmuide.

The Gas Memorial Cross at Steenstraat

The Cross of Reconciliation

A few minutes after Boezinge you will see this tall Metal Cross on your left. This is the Franco Belgian Gas Memorial. Zuidschote is the village to your left. Turn into the village (Generaal Lotzstraat) and traverse the crossroads.

Memorial plaque to Belgian Carabineers

A short distance further along you will see this plaque on the wall of No 15 Generaal Lotzstraat on your left.

There are three gas attack memorials in the immediate area (as well as other Belgian memorials). This plaque, the cross you have just seen and a monument to the Belgian Grenadiers which is a couple of minutes away on a road leading back to the cross.

GPS N E Wikimapia
Decimal 50.916306 2.836559 Map

 

Background

On 22nd April 1915 the Germans bombarded the French lines to the north of Ieper in the first phase of the 2nd Battle of Ypres.

This bombardment was followed by a massive discharge of chlorine gas between Langemark and Bikschote. A green mist that gently floated on a light breeze into the French Lines. Suddenly all along the French line soldiers started coughing and gasping for breath.

The cloud was the result of 180,000 kilos of chlorine gas being released into the wind in just five minutes along seven kilometres of the front. The bombardment had been temporarily halted so as not to disperse the gas.

Some of the French commanders thought that something had caught fire in the German lines, and by the time that they finally realised what was happening the German infantry appeared out of the gas wearing face protectors.

Chlorine is a severe irritant to the eyes, nose and throat. If exposed to enough of it death can occur.

The French officers found that they could hardly get orders out to try to control their men. If they stayed and tried to fight they were out fought by an enemy who was better equipped to deal with the debilitating atmosphere. In retreating however, the French soldiers were simply moving back with the gas cloud and increasing their exposure to its effects.

The French field artillery had been firing for all its worth but the crews were soon affected by the gas themselves.

Thankfully the canal formed a natural barrier to the Germans and the remainder of the Territorials rallied to man the front lines. However by 1845 hours the Germans had reached the canal banks and taken Het Sas (which means: the canal lock) and were menacing Boezinge. The bridge at Steenstraat had fallen and the Germans had crossed over into Lizerne (the site of the cross).

On the northern side of the Steenstraat bridge the front was held by the 6th Belgian Division. The Belgian Grenadier Regiment closest to the bridge were fortunate in that the gas cloud had blown apart by the time it had reached the village and whilst the smell was still very much in the air and causing annoyance it was not sufficient to bowl the Grenadiers over.

With the aid of French troops the Grenadiers poured machine gun fire into the Germans but were forced back nevertheless.

Over the next few days the Germans continued to menace Zuidschote but by the 27th French troops aided by Belgian artillery had retaken Lizerne

Fighting continued in the area over the next few weeks involving both the Belgian Grenadiers and their Carabiniers Regiment alongside French troops. By mid-May the Germans had finally been pushed back across the canal.

 

The Plaque

Memorial plaque to Belgian Carabineers

The bronze plaque carries the symbols of the Carabiniers Regiment : a forest horn and carabiniers hat.

The text in Dutch and French states :

Aux Morts des unités de Carabiniers qui s’opposèrent ici à la première attaque allemande par gaz Avril 1915.

To those Carabiniers who fell fighting here against the first gas attack launched by the Germans.

During the Belgian revolution of 1830 the 1 Regiment Jagers was equipped with carbines and was for that reason renamed the Regiment der Carabiniers in 1850. At the end of the nineteenth century Prins Boudewijn, nephew and designated successor to King Leopold II died whilst serving with the regiment. To honour his name the regiment was retitled : Regiment Carabiniers Prins Boudewijn.

The Regiment Grenadiers was created on 8th May 1837 by Leopold I. Formed by taking the elite companies from the other Line Regiments the Grenadiers would eventually be declared an elite unit themselves.

On 27th June 1992 the two regiments were merged to form the : Regiment Carabiniers Prins Boudewijn – Grenadiers. Later in 2010 the regiment was reduced to a single battalion becoming the : Bataljon Carabiniers Prins Boudewijn – Grenadiers.

They have served most recently in Croatia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

 

The other memorials in the area