Battle of Messines

offensive conducted by the British Second Army

The Battle of Messines was a battle which happened in the Western front of the First World War. It began on 7 June 1917 when the British Second Army, which was commanded by General Herbert Plumer, attacked near the village of Mesen (Messines) in West Flanders, Belgium. The attack was meant to capture a ridge which ran north from Messines village, past Wytschaete village. This ridge was a natural place where you could keep safe southeast of Ypres. One thing which happened during the battle which was unusual was that 19 mines were set off just before the infantry attack. This was a tactic which made German defences disorganised. This allowed the troops to do what they were supposed to do very quickly. The attack also came before the much larger battle, the Third Battle of Ypres, usually known as Passchendaele, which began on 31 July 1917.

Battle of Messines
Part of the Western Front of the First World War
Battle of Messines - Map.jpg
Map of the battle. This shows the front on 7 June and all action until 14 June.
Date7 – 14 June 1917
Result Allied victory

United Kingdom United Kingdom
Australia Australia

New Zealand New Zealand
 German Empire
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Herbert Plumer
United Kingdom Alexander Godley
United Kingdom Alexander Hamilton-Gordon
United Kingdom Thomas Morland
German Empire Sixt von Armin
12 divisions[1]
216,000 men total
5 divisions[2]
126,000 men total
Casualties and losses
17,000 [3] 25,000[4]


  1. Wolff, p. 95
  2. Wolff, p. 98
  3. First World - Battles - The Battle of Messines, 1917 Archived 18 January 2010 at WebCite
  4. Groom, p. 169