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Mesen (Messines in French, historically used in English) is a small city located in the Belgian province of West Flanders. On January 1, 2006, Mesen had a total population of 988.

The municipality comprises only one main settlement, the town of Mesen proper. An exclave to the west of the main territory is surrounded by the municipalities of Heuvelland and Comines-Warneton.

Mesen was the site of two battles in between British and German forces during World War I. The first one took place in 1914 as part of the Race to the Sea. The second took place in 1917 as prelude to the Third Battle of Ypres.

Mesen in "Christmas Truce"[]

On Christmas Day, 1914, Messines, Belgium served as the de facto headquarters of the 16th Bavarian Infantry Reserve Regiment, which had taken horrific casualties while trying to force the British out of Ypres. The surviving German troops made due with Messines as a billet, despite the extensive damage the town had taken.[1]

As with the remainder of the Western Front, the Germans and the British near Messines agreed to a truce with the arrival of Christmas. However a German runner named Adolf Hitler did not approve of the truce. When he arrived back at the trenches outside of the town with a message, he saw Hauptmann Franz Wormser speaking to his British counterparts. Angered, he opened fire, killing one of the officers, and was promptly shot dead by the other officer. The truce held, however.[2]

References[]

  1. Asimov's Science Fiction, November/December, 2019, Vol. 43 Nos. 11 & 12, pg. 46.
  2. Ibid., pgs. 50-51.
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