Mesen – better known in English as Messines – is the smallest town in Belgium and stands on the language frontier between Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia. Mesen has a special place in the history of the Irish people. It was here on 7 June 1917 that two Irish divisions – the 16th Division from Catholic Eire and the 36th Division from Protestant Ulster – fought side by side during the famous Battle of the Mines. The Peace Tower which now stands near this spot is therefore a symbol of reconciliation for the past, the present and the future. Mesen is also twinned with the New Zealand town of Featherstone. Troops of the New Zealand Division – men who had literally come from the other side of the world – also fought here in 1917.
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