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Battle of Messines - 1917

June7 – June14, 1917

Flanders, Belgium – Western Front

Allied Powers – British Empire
Central Powers – German Empire

In June 1917, General Sir Douglas Haig planned the Battle of Messines to capture the German defenses in Ypres.
The battle was the Allied attempt to eliminate the strategic German salient at Messines. General Herbert Plumer oversaw the laying of over twenty-two mines, with six hundred tons of explosives, under the German trench line for over a year before the battle. British geologists assisted in planning the mine formations. Of these twenty-two mines, one was found and destroyed by the German troops. Two more mines in Ploegsteert Wood were not set off by the BEF in the battle.

On May 21, 1917, a round of heavy bombardment preceded the attack. Over 2,300 guns were engaged, and the firing lasted till the early hours of June 7, 1917. At 3:10 a.m. on June 7, nineteen of the mines were detonated. The detonation was the loudest man-made explosion till that point. Over 10,000 Germans were killed in the explosion. While the BEF advanced, a gas attack was launched against the German troops. By the afternoon of June 7, the British Fifth Army had achieved all objectives of the offensive. The German troops launched a counterattack which was fought until June 14, 1917, with little success for the Central Powers.

The BEF recorded 17,000 casualties in the Battle of Messines while the German camp lost 25,000 soldiers and resulted in a decisive Allied victory. The battle was also a necessary precursor to the Battle of Passchendaele.

  Major Battles of World War I  
Battle of Mons - 1914Battle of Messines - 1917
Battle of Tannenberg – 1914Battles of Gaza - 1917
Battle of Heligoland Bight - 1914Second Battle of Aisne - 1917
First Battle of Marne – 1914Second Battle of Arras - 1917
First Battle of the Masurian Lakes – 1914Battle of Messines – 1917
First Battle of Aisne – 1914Battle of Passchendaele - 1917
First Battle of Albert - 1914Battle of Caporetto - 1917
First Battle of Arras – 1914Battle of Cambrai - 1917
First Battle of Ypres – 1914German Spring Offensive - 1918
Gallipoli Campaign – 1915Hundred Days Offensive - 1918
Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes – 1915Battle of Messines - 1917
Battles of Isonzo – 1915Second Battle of Somme - 1918
Loos-Artois Offensive - 1915Second Battle of Marne - 1918
Battle of Verdun - 1916Battle of St Mihiel - 1918
Battle of Messines - 1917 
First Battle of Somme - 1916Battle of Vittori Veneto - 1918