Today the British Lunched a limited offensive to capture Messines Ridge, a feature of strategic importance because it overlooked a large section of the British lines.
The RFC and RNAS had already played a large part in the preparation carrying out photography, reconnaissance, artillery suppression,bombing and for the most part succeeded in minimising German reconnaissance of the preparations.
On the day of the battle the British were able to muster a sizeable force to support the attack.So much so that the order of battle runs to four pages of the official history.. A total of 853 aircraft were on charge for the battle.
The British forces have been preparing to attack Messines Ridge. Since 21 March the Corps aircraft have been carrying out spotting for the preliminary artillery bombardment.
At conference on the 30 May, captured German documents revealed that the enemy would rely, for defence, mainly on prearranged schemes of artillery fire. This raised the importance of counter-battery work.
To induce the Germans to disclose the positions of their barrage batteries, it was arranged that a full-dress rehearsal of the artillery bombardment, as it would be at zero hour, with a smoke demonstration along the front of attack, should take place today. The hour for this rehearsal was fixed on the advice of the Royal Flying Corps because it was essential to choose conditions favourable for the placing of the maximum strength in the air to discover the enemy guns.
The full-dress rehearsal of the artillery barrage on the Messines ridge was made this afternoon when thirty-one Corps aeroplanes kept watch to note the positions of the German batteries. They were ill-rewarded. The enemy retaliation was feeble, and not many new emplacements were discovered. However air photographs revealed much about the accuracy of the barrage. Artillery staff officers were also flown over the front while the bombardment was in progress enabled many minor errors of timing to be adjusted.