The Battle of Messines
7-14 June 1917
The Allies plan was to attack around the Ypres Salient in order to drive the Germans out of Belgium. The plans were long in the making and the attack made use of strategic tunnels which had been burrowed underground during the previous eighteen months of planning.
I'd like to quote this observation from Voices and Images of the Great War by Lyn Macdonald
Pastor Van Walleghem : - 7 June 1917 ...What a hellish sound, what an abominable spectacle, thousands of gun-flashes and bangs per minute, beneath a rain of fire and resounding shell and shrapnel explosion, if this were not human carnage one would all it 'wonderful'. For us onlookers this is nothing, but what must it be like for the 100,000 men in that pool of fire...
Ruins of Martens Farm, near Wytschaete, 10 June 1917.
|© IWM (Q 5479)|
Shells bursting in a valley near Messines, 7 June 1917.
|© IWM (Q 5462)|
Artillery officers mess, in front of Kemmel, 10 June 1917.
|© IWM (Q 5476)|
The fine June weather was a bonus and the Battle of Messines was a victory. By removing the Germans from the ridge it ensured that the high ground around the salient was under Allied control.
As always, I am indebted to IWM for the opportunity to feature these photographs from the area around the battle site.