The offensive began at 3.10am when 19 huge mines were detonated under the German trenches. The explosion was the largest and loudest of its time and it is said it could be heard in London. 10,000 Germans were killed as a result of the explosions.
Allied casualties to begin with were light but as the Germans began to reorganise themselves the number of casualties grew. By 9 June, 1917 when the New Zealand Division was relieved it had suffered 3,700 casualties, 700 of whom died.
Remembered below are five young New Zealand men all aged 25 who are listed on the Eketahuna Memorial and were killed in action on 7 June, 1917 at Messines.
Rifleman Edwin Christensen was the son of Danish immigrants Lauritz and Nielsine Christensen, of Putara, Eketahuna, he worked with his father on the family farm at Putara. Edwin Christensen enlisted on 29 May, 1916 and embarked from Wellington aboard the 'Devon' on 25 September, 1916 with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. The ship arrived at Devonport, England on 21 November, 1916 and the troops were marched into Sling Camp on the same day. Whilst at Sling camp Edwin qualified as a marksmen. On 7 June, 1917 Rifleman Christensen was killed in action at Messines aged 25 and is remembered at the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial, Messines Ridge British Cemetery, Belgium.
... he got safely through with the rest of his gun crew, and they had dug themselves in, but the German gun fire in the night was very heavy, and he was killed by a shell.