Messines Ridge British Cemetery is located 9.5 kilometres south of Ieper town centre on the Nieuwkerkestraat, a road leading from the Rijselseweg, N365, which connects Ieper to Wijtschate, Mesen and on to Armentières. From Ieper town centre the Rijselsestraat runs from the market square, through the Lille Gate (Rijselpoort) and directly over the crossroads with the Ieper ring road. The road name then changes to the Rijselseweg.
Nieuwkerkestraat is a right hand turning from the N365 in the town of Mesen. The cemetery lies 250 metres after this right hand turning, on the left hand side of the road.
Messines (now Mesen) was considered a strong strategic position, not only from its height above the plain below, but from the extensive system of cellars under the convent known as the Institution Royale.
The village was taken from the 1st Cavalry Division by the German 26th Division on 31st October-1st November 1914. An attack by French troops on 6th-7th November was unsuccessful and it was not until the Battle of Messines on 7th June 1917 that it was retaken by the New Zealand Division.
On 10th-11th April 1918, the village fell into German hands once more after a stubborn defence by the South African Brigade, but was retaken for the last time on 28th-29th September 1918.
Within Messines Ridge British Cemetery stands the New Zealand Memorial which commemorates over 800 soldiers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who died in or near Messines in 1917 and 1918 and who have no known grave.
This is one of seven memorials in France and Belgium to those New Zealand soldiers who died on the Western Front and whose graves are not known. The memorials are all in cemeteries chosen as appropriate to the fighting in which the men died.
Both cemetery and memorial were designed by Charles Holden.
The Road leading down the hill immediately opposite the cemetery entrance is Kruisstraat and takes you to the Mine Craters at Kruisstraat and Spanbroekmolen.
The New Zealand Monument is a short distance from the Cemetery as is the Irish Peace Park. There are a number of other sites worth seeing in the village.