The Battle of Messines was an offensive conducted by the British Second Army against the Germans near the village of Messines in West Flanders, Belgium. The objective was to capture the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge to the south of Ypres, which was in German possession and which threatened the south flank of the Allies-held Ypres salient. In preparation for the attack, British sappers dug tunnels and laid mines under the German front lines. The battle started early on the morning of 4 June 1917, the mines were detonated, British artillery began a creeping barrage of fire against the German defenses, and British tanks and infantry troops (including Australian and New Zealand forces) began the assault on the front lines.
The assault secured its objectives in the first twelve hours, and in the following days a German counter-offensive was resisted. The battle is generally reckoned to have been a tactical and operational success for the Allies. Nonetheless, by the end of battle on 14 June, casualties on each side amounted to about 25,000 men. The Allied losses included nearly 5,000 New Zealand casualties and 6,000 Australian casualties.
The Battle of Messines was a prelude to the much larger Third Battle of Ypres, which began the following month.
Humphrey Neville Austin CONDRAN (his second name is variously recorded as Neville, Netherval and Netwille) was born in Bundarra, New South Wales, in 1893, the sixth child of Thomas Henry and Ellen Winifred (née O’HERAN or O’HERAU) CONDRAN. Humphrey ("Humpsy") was a stock inspector at the time he enlisted in the Australian Infantry, 25th Battalion. He left Australia on the ship HMAT Itonus on 30 December 1915. At the time of his death, he was serving in the 47th Batallion. Sergeant White of 47th Battalion C Company reported, “Condran and Randall were both in my section XII platoon and were with Pte. T. Hara killed outright whilst on the advance at Messines going over to Owl Trench. They were killed by one shell and the pioneers buried them where they fell and erected crosses. I saw them killed.”
Humphrey’s father Thomas Henry CONDRAN was born in 1854, and died in 1911 in Murwillumbah, NSW. He was a policeman. He married Ellen Winifred O’HERAN in Maitland, NSW, in 1876. The couple had twelve children: Frederick (born 1877), Edwin Thomas (1878), Albert Clarence Clive (1880), Gertrude Jessie (1885), Pearl (1891), Humphrey Neville Austin (1893), Louis Osric (1895), Evelyn (1899), Dulcie (1902), Alma (1904), Victor (1908) and Roma Jean (1909).
Humphrey’s grandfather was Michael CONDRAN, who settled in Australia from Ireland. See CONDRANs in New South Wales.
For other blog posts about CONDR*Ns in the First World War, click on "First World War" in the Labels list on the right of the blog web page. Comments and corrections welcome, either by leaving a comment below or by email to me: CONDRAN[AT]ONE-NAME.ORG .