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Remembered Today:

Mining Operations - Worthwhile?


kenneth505
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I noticed a mention of the day of the detonation of the Messines mines in 1917 in a different post and found myself wondering if the benefit was worth the effort? In this case or any of the other tunneling operations, did the tactical advantage ever justify the cost of men, labor, materials not to mention fear and stress? No instance comes to mind for me of a post action report on the lines of 'thank goodness we dug those mines, that made the difference.'

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... found myself wondering if the benefit was worth the effort? In this case or any of the other tunneling operations, did the tactical advantage ever justify the cost of men, labor, materials ...

Would "Messines" have been the success it was without the mines ? Military mining during WW1 was possibly one of the most - excuse the expression - "manpower cost over detrimental effect on the enemy" forms of (static) warfare.

Tom

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I thought my great-uncle Frank's memoirs might give his unequivocal answer to this question, as one who took part in the attack; but in fact what he wrote seems somewhat ambiguous. One the one hand:

"An interesting feature of the Battle of Messines, fought by General Plumer1 commanding the Second Army, was the number of deep mines under Wytschaete Ridge and Messines Ridge. These were 19 in number, 90 feet deep, from 500 yards behind our front lines to as far as 800 yards behind the German front lines. It had taken a year and a half to dig them and they contained a prodigious amount of explosive and, being so deep, the enemy never suspected them."

On the other:

"The New Zealanders attacked at Zero. They crossed no man’s land (the rocket display diminished as the bayonets got to work) and captured the Ridge and Messines. It was not long, though, before the enemy began to shell us heavily and my section was ordered into a trench for cover."

Not quite the definite answer I expected from Frank!

Regards,

Jamie.

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If you read accounts of the fighting on Vimy ridge between 1915 and 1917 (form both sides) you will see that it was a necessity to fight underground. Allowing the other side to have domination of this field of conflict would have been disastrous for either side. It was not a question of 'if we hadn't had the mines', it was simply out of the question not to fight underground.

Also the subways built here and connecting the underground quarries south west of Arras saved many lives.

Jim

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