Private Eric Andrew Gray, who was wounded on the first day of the Allied Assault on Messines (7 June, 1917), later wrote in a letter to his sister:
Before we went in we had been shown maps and pictures of the town and each platoon was given its part to clean up but when we got there it was just like a broken brick heap. You couldn’t tell where the streets were or the square or anything.
The day before the assault began, Major General Charles Harington, Chief of Staff of British Second Army, said to correspondents during a press conference:
Gentlemen, I do not know whether or not we shall change history tomorrow but we shall certainly alter geography.
(On This Day in Military History, Messines Ridge, 1917)