Messines 100th Anniversary Remembrance Tour
(Four day battlefield tour of the Ypres Salient)
The Battle of Messines (7 – 14 June 1917) was an offensive conducted by the British Second Army, commanded by General Sir Herbert Plumer, near the village of Messines, south of Ypres.
The tactical objective of the attack at Messines was to capture the German defences on the ridge, which ran from Ploegsteert (Plugstreet) Wood in the south, through the towns of Messines and Wytschaete to Mt. Sorrel. This would be achieved by a seven day artillery bombardment and the use of 19 mines that were exploded under strong points along the ridge. Once the ridge was under the command of the British, the plan was then to conduct another operation in the northern sector of the salient and break out towards the Belgian coast. This would become Third Ypres, better known as the battle of Passchendaele.
Our four day Messines Anniversary tour will be based in the beautiful city of Ypres where you will have ample time to explore the many sights including St Martin’s Cathedral, the Cloth Hall and the Ramparts. Take a meal or Belgian beer in the many restaurants around the Grote Markt and witness the Last Post Ceremony that takes place at the Menin Gate every evening at 8pm.
In the build up to the offensive, we study the work of the tunnellers who dug under the German lines to lay the mines and the craters that their destruction caused, notably those of Hill 60, the Caterpillar Crater and Spanbroekmolen (the Pool of Peace).
We will look at the attack in which Commonwealth troops took part. These include troops from New Zealand who captured the town of Messines and the two Irish Divisions (16th and 36th) who fought side by side for the first time, despite their sectarian issues. Now the Irish Peace Park marks this event.
As well as this, we look at the history of the fighting along the ridge from 1914 to 1917 and includes a visit to the Bayernwald German Trenches, as well as the Church of St Nicolas at Messines whose crypt was used by the Germans as a dressing station. One of its patients being none other than Adolph Hitler.
We will aim to attend one of the main official ceremonies; awaiting more information on these events.
If you are interested in this battlefield tour please contact us.