The Western Front Today - Pool of Peace, Spanbroekmolen

The site of the largest of the 19 mine explosions detonated to signal the start of the Messines phase of Third Ypres, the 'Pool of Peace' - Spanbroekmolen - was formed by a 91,000lb ammonal explosion set off at 0310 on 7 June 1917 underneath one of the then highest German front-line positions on Messines Ridge.

Work began on laying the mine in December 1916 and continued right up until a few hours before the mine was detonated, when the actual charge was placed and primed.

In February 1917 German countermining had damaged the main tunnel and much work had to be done to drive forward a new tunnel.

The Messines offensive was preceded by a seven day offensive bombardment.

Nine divisions of infantry advanced upon a 9 mile front.  All 19 mines were blown at 0310.  The Spanbroekmolen mine actually went up 15 seconds late, killing infantry who had already begun to advance and who had been instructed to advance whether the mine exploded or not.

The sound of the 19 mine explosions was apparently heard as faraway as Dublin, and in Downing Street itself.  It was considered the loudest man made sound until that point.

The attack was a huge success, leaving the opposing German forces stunned by the nature and force of the offensive.  The Allies made significant gains during that first day.

Following the war, in 1929, there was concern that all of the mine craters left by the offensive were being lost as each was being reclaimed by local villagers.

This led to the purchase of Spanbroekmolen by Lord Wakefield and its renaming as 'The Pool of Peace'.  It has been left ever since as a memorial.  It is now owned by the 'Toc-H' museum in Poperinghe.

Film Footage of Pool of Peace (1)

Film Footage of Pool of Peace (2)

Before Endeavours Fade, Rose E.B. Coombs, After the Battle 1994
Major & Mrs Holt's Battlefield Guide - Somme, Leo Cooper 2000

A "listening post" was an advanced post, usually in no-man's land, where soldiers tried to find out information about the enemy.

- Did you know?