Centenary of Battle of Messines Ridge to be marked by UK-Irish ceremony
Messines was the first occasion during the first World War when soldiers from the 36th Ulster Division and 16th Irish Division saw action together
The grave of an unknown Irish soldier in the Messines Ridge military cemetery in Messines Belgium, beside the Island of Ireland Peace Park. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
The centenary of the Battle of Messines Ridge, where unionist and nationalist soldiers from Ireland fought side by side in the trenches, is to be marked by a joint UK-Irish ceremony.
The event will take place at the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Messines in Flanders, Belgium, on June 7th, the first day of the week-long battle, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan announced.
Messines was the first occasion during the first World War when soldiers from the 36th Ulster Division and 16th Irish Division saw action together.
Both had fought at the Somme in 1916, but at different stages of the battle.
The capture of the Messines salient in the summer of 1917, in part due to the detonation of a series of devastating underground mines below the German lines on the first day of the battle, marked a significant victory for the Allies.
“Those from the island of Ireland were brought together by diverse motivations but they shared a common purpose as soldiers and, caught up in the grim realities of war, no doubt a common desire: to survive and return home,” Mr Flanagan remarked.
He said a public ballot would be held in Ireland to allocate tickets. More details are on: http://www.dfa.ie/commemorations/messines