Perspective of the memorial at Messines

Seager's early watercolour perspective of the battlefield memorial at Messines.

The New Zealand battlefield memorial at Messines commemorates the New Zealand Division’s capture of the Belgian village from the German 26th Division. It is situated next to the road where the New Zealanders advanced towards the Germans, and the site is bordered by two lines of German trenches to the east and west. 

After initial plans to build the memorial in the Messines town square were dropped, a four-acre section on a rise outside of the town was chosen in 1921, southwest of the Messines Ridge. About 500m north is the Messines Ridge Cemetery where 800 missing New Zealand soldiers are commemorated on a separate memorial.

The rural location suited Seager’s purposes of creating a tranquil setting for the memorial, and encouraging its use as a place of quiet contemplation. The large size of the site allowed Seager to create a specific approach from a carpark that leads visitors between the remnants of the German trenches to the front of the monument. This is a square obelisk, similar to that of the Longueval and Gravenstafel monuments, on a square base of seven steps, and is just over 10m high.

Construction began in the summer of 1923. Stone for the three closely-related memorials was sourced from the Nabresina marble quarries at Trieste in Italy. After being cut and prepared at the quarry, 120 tons of limestone for each of the three obelisks was transported to Ypres by train, then carried by lorries to the site. The contractors were Messrs Fenning and Co. Ltd. of London.

The Pathé newsreel of the unveiling of the memorial on 1 August 1924.

In Honour of the Men of the New Zealand Division. The Battle of Messines, 7th to 14th June, 1917.
The New Zealand Division On The 7th of June Captured This Ridge and Advanced 2,000 Yards Through Messines to their Objective on the Eastern Side.
From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth. 

On the left and right-hand sides these inscriptions are repeated in Flemish and in French. On the tablet on the back of the memorial: The New Zealand Division, Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago