Battle of Messines

German observation post and trenches on Messines Ridge wrecked by shell fire during the Battle of Messines, seen on 11th June 1917.
© IWM (Q 2323)

On June 14, 1917, the Battle of Messines came to an end. The first phase of fighting up the Belgian coast had ended in resounding success. While the Canadians provided large diversionary raids, the British Expeditionary Force had advanced two and a half miles over the Messines Ridge, straightening the line between Mount Sorrel and Ploegsteert and thus ending the German domination of the Ypres Salient (Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919, p. 282).   “The completeness of the victory and the speed with which it was attained surpassed that of any previous major operation of the B.E.F. Only the Canadian capture of Vimy Ridge – a lesser operation which the Second Army used as a model – bears comparison” (Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919, p. 282).