Black and white photograph which shows a shell burst or a mine explosion at Mesen (Messines) in June 1917. On 7th June 1917 a British offensive was launched against the German forces at Mesen with the aim of capturing a stronghold just southeast of Ypres. One of the central features of the battle that contributed to the successful operation was the detonation of 19 mines (possibly that shown in this photograph) immediately prior to the assault. This allowed the Allied forces to advance and secure their objectives in rapid succession while simultaneously disrupting the German defences. The Allied forces successfully won the battle at Mesen on the 14th of June 1917.
It is one of 95 black and white, and, sepia toned photographs taken in France during World War I, attached to a photograph album. The album includes a few photographs of enemy prisoners, the war cemetery at Warloy, a wrecked German ambulance and images of the local French people.
Most photographs are of Albert and surrounds so it would seem probable that most were taken during and after the Battle of the Somme (1916). In addition there are also photographs dated 1917. The photographs were taken by Private John Edward Lord, 13th Field Ambulance, and brought back to Australia by him and compiled in an album at the end of the First World War.
The album is one of many souvenirs brought back to Australia after World War I by Lord, and is part of a larger collection of photograph albums, images, documents and World War I memorabilia donated by Lord to Museum Victoria.
Description of Content
The image is of a large, empty field. In the background rows of trees and bushes are spread across the fields. In the left background of the image two houses are visible. In the background, in the centre of the image, smoke from a shell burst or mine explosion is only just visible.
Monochrome photograph, mounted in a small, grey photograph album.
This album appears to have been prepared to 'showcase' the war experiences of John Lord and the photographs associated with these. The album has been very carefully prepared and the quality of the photographs is generally good, in comparison to the album ST40491, also compiled by John Lord, which has a number of photographs which are of poor quality, many photographs removed and written in (mostly) illegible pencil. This suggests this album was most probably compiled after the war, with photographs probably gathered from other photograph albums of Lord's.
The subjects of the photographs are of trenches (both German and Allies), horses, camps, farms, graves and cemeteries, civilians, soldiers, churches and other buildings. Many of the photographs were taken around the town of Albert and are dated 1916 and 1917. From this information we can tell that Lord was involved with the Battle of the Somme when these photographs were taken.
The Battle of the Somme was fought from north of the Somme river between the towns of Albert and Arras. The Battle began on the 1 July and was called off on the 18 November 1916. The Battle of the Somme is famous for the loss of 58,000 British troops (one third of them killed) on the first day of the battle, 1 July 1916, which to this day remains a one-day record.
Donation from J. Lord, 1986
Place & Date Depicted
Handwritten in ink on matt directly below photograph: 'Shell burst or mine at / Messines / June 1917.'
Type of item
Image Dimensions - Photograph
60 mm (Width), 40 mm (Height)
Image Dimensions - Photograph album page
195 mm (Width), 145 mm (Height)