Messines

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Rehearsal for Battle: Australians Studying a Detailed Model of the Terrain of Messines Ridge. Courtesy Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection

Messines (modern name is Mesen) was the prelude to the series of battles known as the Third Battle of Ypres.[1]

The Battle of Messines was fought along a wide frontage. Haig's plan involved 17 divisions advancing along a 27 kilometre front. [2]Australian infantry fought on the southern end of this line near Messines village, while to the north at Hill 60 near Ypres Australian tunnellers played a vital role in the detonation of part of a series of huge mines beneath the enemy’s trenches. The 1st Australian Tunnelling Company had worked there since November 1916, extending shafts for the mines while sometimes encountering German underground works. Finally, along the whole British front, 19 mines were exploded with a devastating effect and an impact that some said they felt in London. Many of the enemy were killed, and the survivors demoralised, even before the infantry attacked.[3]

Massive networks of tunnels were constructed by both sides and these provided some protection for sleeping, eating and medical care away from the carnage being reaped above. Deep mines were also sunk underneath the enemy’s lines and the shafts were filled with tonnes of explosives to be detonated, usually prior to a major attack. The largest of these occurred along Messines Ridge on 7 June 1917. The ridge was a natural stronghold southeast of Ypres which had been held by a small German force since 1914.[4]

Rue de la Pierre, Messines c1917.


Movie Footage of Australians at Messines

http://translate.google.com.au/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://www.ww1westernfront.gov.au/french/ploegsteert/messines/australians-at-messines-movie.php&prev=search

Also See

1st Tunnelling Company

Ypres

References

  1. MacDougall, A.K., ANZACS: Australians at War, Currawong Press, Chatswood, New South Wales, 1991, p91.
  2. MacDougall, A.K., ANZACS: Australians at War, Currawong Press, Chatswood, New South Wales, 1991, p91.
  3. http://www.awm.gov.au/blog/2007/05/25/messines-tunnellers-and-mines/, accessed 30 April 2014.
  4. http://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/portal/news/australian-mining-corps-david-lees, accessed 22 November 2014.
General Area of the British Offensive at Ypres, 1917. Courtesy Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection
Map Showing the Dominating Position of the Wytschaete and Messines Ridges, 1917. Courtesy Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection
Battlefield between Arras and the Sea. Courtesy Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection