Monday, 25 May 2009

The Battle of Lansdown Hill

This battlefield is a little closer to home than others that I've visited recently. On the 5th July 1643 Sir Ralph Hopton's 6,300 strong Royalist Army from the South West of England attempted to seize the city of Bath which was being defended by Waller's parliamentarians (some 4,000 strong). The monument shown in my picture commemorates Sir Bevill Grenville, a Cornish Royalist Commander. It stands on the ridge held by Waller's troops - a position which was taken at great loss of life by the Royalist attackers. The battlefield can be walked in an hour or so. There are markers showing the main defensive positions and helpful explanatory storyboards. Apart from the historic context, this site is a spectacular location affording fantastic views of Bath and beyond.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Narva Bridgehead (1944)

I have just returned from a few days of field walking on the Estonian: Russian border. The town of Narva is the gateway from Russia into the Baltic States. In the Spring of 1944 Army Group North was forced back from forward positions around Leningrad and, in Estonia, a new defence line was established along the banks of the River Narva. Despite Russian incursions, 18th Army including Steiner's 111 Panzer Corps held the line (including a bridgehead encompassing Invorogod on the East bank) for six months. Following an orderly withdrawal in July, a second defence line called 'Tannenburg' was set up with the Blue Mountains of Eastern Estonia forming the primary strongpoint. Nobody knows more about this battle than an old friend of mine, Paul Errington. Armed with Paul's local contacts and his extensive knowledge of the battle a group of us explored the Narva Defence Line and the killing ground of Sinimaed (Grenadier Hill, Kinderheim and Hill 69.9). The pictures show a T34 at Silvertsi (Top), the German Cemetery at Narva (Middle) and the memorials on Grenadier Hill (Bottom). The battle is primarily remembered for the Dutch, Norwegian, Belgian and Estonian volunteers serving with the Axis forces.