Plumer's Victory at Messines
The walk looks at three main topics; the underground war, the surface battle fought by infantryman and gunner and the war in the air.
On the eve of the battle high ranking Commonwealth officers and press were addressed: “Gentlemen, we may not make history tomorrow, but we will certainly change the geography”.
At 03:10 am on 7 June 1917, the earth came alive as nineteen massive underground explosions shattered the early morning silence. Within twenty seconds a crescendo of explosions irretrievably altered the geography of the Messines – Wytschaete Ridge. It is estimated that thousands of Germans were killed by the size and ferocity of the explosions, many being vaporised by the heat of the flames generated.
As well as visiting any of the surviving mine craters we will talk about the formation of the Tunnelling Companies and look at the innovative techniques employed by the miners as they used stealth to undermine prominent German positions. With copies of mining plans we will discover the locations of the offensive galleries.
Aided by a heavy artillery barrage the surface attack was extremely successful. However, this success still came at a price. We will cover the orientation of the battle as your guide relays stories of the soldiers that took part. Finally, we will look at the role of the RFC in the battle, both beforehand where three hundred machines took part in the build up and during the battle, carrying out the vital task of artillery spotting. We will study the techniques used by aviators and gunners.
The walk will cover whatever distance you or your group feels comfortable with.