Webmatters : 16th (Irish) Division Memorial at Wytschaete
Rough Map of Area

16th (Irish) Division

Location

The memorial cross is situated next to the entrance to Wytschaete Military Cemetery. This is located seven kilometres south of Ieper town centre, on a road leading from the Rijselseweg N365, which connects Ieper to Wijtschate (Wytschaete) and on to Armentières.

On arriving in the village turn into the main square following the signs for Kemmel. The cemetery and cross are on your right.

 

Background

From an Irish point of view, the Battle for Messines (now Mesen) in June 1917 is important because for the first time the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) Divisions would fight alongside each other. The two Divisions had found themselves united within IX Corps.

At 0100 hours on 7th June 1917 the British and Anzacs moved up into their jumping off positions. Two hours later everybody was warned to lie flat on the ground.

Then at 0310 hours about 450,000 kilos of explosives were detonated amongst 19 huge mines under the German front line. The effect was a man made earthquake which sent German soldiers in Lille 20 kilometres away into a panic, and was easily heard in the south east of England.

16th (Irish) Division found that their attack against Wijtschate was made relatively simple by the mine at Maedelstede Farm and the twin mines at Petit Bois, which broke any resistance. The village like Mesen had been heavily fortified by the Germans, but a heavy bombardment on 3rd June had battered the defences.

With a tank leading the way the Irishmen overran the northern side and by 0800 hours had attained their objectives. A sad loss to the Division was the death of Major Willie Redmond who was injured near Maedelstede Farm whilst advancing with the 6th Royal Irish. He continued on but was injured again in the leg and could no longer stand.

The Irish Nationalist MP was whisked off the battlefield by the stretcher bearers of the Unionist 36th Division. The Ulsterman who tended him, by chance also being called Redmond. If he had been younger his injuries would not have been too serious but at 56 years of age the shock was too great for him and he died from his wounds before he could be sent back.

He was buried by members of both the Irish communities in the grounds of the Loker Hospice garden where he had died. His grave is now situated just outside the CWGC Locre Hospice Cemetery at Loker.

 

The Memorial

Monument to the 16th Irish Division at Wytschaete

Do chum Glòire de agus Onòra na’ hÉireann

To the glory and honour of Ireland

In commemoration of the victory of Wytschaete June 7th 1917. In memory of those who fell therein and of all Irishmen who gave their lives in the Great War. RIP.

 

The other memorials near Wijtschate