The ridges surrounding Ypres really formed the salient during the Great War. In the south you can find the Messines Ridge, with its core town Messines. During the first years of World War One the Germans held a firm hold on this ridge. They thought this ridge was unconquerable. They were wrong...
In the early morning of 7th June 1917 General Herbert Plumer gave the order to blow 19 mines, al constructed under key points of the German defence on the Messines Ridge. Besides the mines, who were constructed in the months, even the years before the attack, a huge army force and a massive bombardment were used to regain the lost territories in the south.
In a matter of hours the allied forces overwhelmed the German defences. The New Zealand troops, who’s objective it was to conquer Messines, did “the job” in a little less than 2 hours. The Kiwi’s didn’t have the support of a mine, but with the aid of fierce artillery fire and taking advantage of the chaos among the German troops, they reached there objectives.
The Battle of Messines may not be the best-known battle of the First World War, but it is certainly one of the biggest successes of the Allied Forces. It was a school example of a well-prepared battle where every branch of the Allied Army had its place.
Nowadays Messines is a haven of peace and tranquillity set between the hills and the pastures. But the efforts of those fighting for their countries and freedom of Belgium are not forgotten. Messines has several monuments remembering and honouring the brave souls who lost their lives in this dreadful war. For a battlefield tourist Messines is a must see. The local museum, the New Zealand Memorial, The Island of Ireland Peace Park, the crypt,...
But Messines is much more than just the Great War. The beautiful environment of hills, forests and pastures are ideal for hiking or biking. Enjoy a nice Belgian beer in the local cafés. Make the best of your Flanders Fields experience; visit the historic town of Messines.
If you want more touristic information on Flanders Fields/the Westhoek area, you can check these 2 sites: