The Battle of Messines Ridge

The Battle of Messines Ridge
By Euronews
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1917: June 7


After the French Mutiny during the Nivelle offensive, British commander in chief Sir Douglas Haig ordered an offensive on the Ypres salient. The offensive was planned by General Plumer, who had been drawing up plans for the attack since 1915. Plumer authorised the construction of 21 mine shafts under the German positions on the Messines Ridge, and for them to be packed with explosive in order to blow up the German positions before the troops advanced. Of the 21 mines that were laid 19 were detonated.

On June 7 at 03:10, only half an hour after an 18-day bombardment of the German lines, 19 mines under the Messines ridge detonated, instantly killing at least 10,000 Germans. The British infantry then advanced under the cover of a creeping barrage, poison gas and tanks. Within three hours all of the initial objectives had been taken and by the June 17 the Salient was firmly in allied hands.

Overall the offensive on the Messines ridge was a resounding success for the Allies and was referred to as one of the worst tragedies of the war for Germany. But the Battle of the Messines ridge is often overlooked, as it was shortly followed by the third battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) where both sides incurred huge casualties.

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