UPDATE – His sacrifice will not be forgotten …       

 Battle of Messines … 100 years on, 1917 – 2017   

After 18 months of tunneling and preparation, 22 mines each comprising roughly 22,000 kg of explosives had been secreted under the German position (Hill 60) that dominated the Messines Ridge.  At 3.10am on the morning of 7 June 1917 the Battle of Messines was initiated when 450,000 kg of explosives was detonated, demolishing the heavily defended German positions between Ypres and Ploegsteert, including the town of Messines.  The explosion, so massive it was heard in Dublin, accounted  for 10,000 enemy soldiers killed with many thousands more wounded.  The loss of advancing NZ, Australian, British & Canadian troops was no where near as disastrous, but suffer they did – by the end of the day on the 9th of June, New Zealand had sustained 3700 casualties, 700 of whom were killed.  

Being a NZ Field Engineer with 2nd Field Company, Charlie Lewis would doubtlessly have been heavily involved in the extensive engineering field engineering preparations for this attack and the NZ advance which would follow.  Early on the third day of the battle, 10 June 1917, 20 year old West Coaster, Sapper Charlie Lewis from Westport, became the 701st New Zealand soldier to be killed.

The Lewis Family – Charlie, sister Lilian, mother Annie and father, Charles (snr) – 1916

100 years later to the day, two generations of descendants of Charlie’s sister Annie Lilian Newman, Charlies great nephew Aaron Blair and son Finlay, stood at Charlie’s grave on June 10th, 2017 and layed a tribute in honour  of his service and sacrifice. 

Grave of 4/2097 Sapper Charles Leslie Lewis – 2017

Aaron and Finlay Blair at Charlie’s grave, 10 June 2107

Memorial to Unknown New Zealand Soldiers at Messines

View from Messines Ridge looking towards NZ positions

NZ Soldier in the town of Messines

New Zealand & Commonwealth graves at Messines – 2017











                                                               ‘ Lest We Forget ‘


To read the previous posts:

>> Original Post > here

Thanks to Aaron and Finlay Blair for permitting the publication of the Lewis Family photograph and those of their visit to Messines.