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Webmatters : Mesen: The Kruisstraat Craters
Rough Map of Area

Kruisstraat Craters

Location

From the centre of Mesen village take the N 314 towards Nieuwkerke and the Messines Ridge CWGC Cemetery. Immediately opposite the cemetery turn right onto Kruisstraat. This road will also take you to Spanbroekmolen.

Just before reaching Spanbroekmolen you will come to a crossroads with a large farm on your left. Turn left at the farm onto Wulvergemstraat. The two mine craters are immediately on your right opposite the farm.

 

Background

The Mining War

Nowadays a popular fishing spot; on 7th June 1917 these two mines were on the German front line and in the path of the 36th (Ulster) Division.

Spanbroekmolen on the ridge from Kruisstraat Crater

Like the Spanbroekmolen mine, which is easily visible just behind the CWGC Cemetery further up the hill, this group of mines was commenced for use in 1916.

Mines 1 and 2 were completed by July 1916 and No 3 was ready at the end of August.

When it became obvious that the battle of the Somme was not going to be finished quickly the plans for an offensive in the Mesen area were put on hold.

General Plumer, in command of 2nd Army, realised that any attempted breakout from the Ieper salient would require the taking of the Mesen Ridge. For that reason he continued with his mining operations adding to those already placed.

The Kruisstraat Craters

The Kruisstraat Craters
Spanbroekmolen is behind the farm house and the Cross in Lone Tree Cemetery is just visible to its left.

Each of the three charges placed at Kruisstraat was made up of just over thirteen and a half tonnes of Ammonal explosives. The gallery leading down past No 1 charge to No 3 charge was at 659 metres the longest of all of those dug on the ridge.

In February 1917 the Germans detonated a small counter mine called a camouflet near to the position of No 1 mine which flooded the chamber. This necessitated the building of a new chamber called No 4 in which a further 9 tonnes of explosives was placed in April 1917.

Thus the total weight of explosives under these two fishing ponds as they are today was in the region of 50 tonnes.