Rifleman Press



Book: Taking the Ridge


Messines in WW1



Free download:  [click here]
or from Massey University Library  http://hdl.handle.net/10179/20206


Taking the Ridge: Price revision

RRP now $69.95 (incl  GST)

Effective March 2024


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Journal of the Military Historical Society of Australia


Jeffrey McNeill embarked on a project to discover the part played not only by the New Zealand Division, but also by the other components of II ANZAC Corps and – a feature uncommon in standard British and Dominion battle histories – by their  immediate opponents in taking and holding the Messines Ridge. The result is a handsome, large format volume, which merits the attention of general readers and specialists alike.

Clearly and professionally written and ably supported by contemporary accounts, notes and references, plus scores of photos, maps, tables and diagrams, make Taking the Ridge an impressive work, and a worthy addition to any military history enthusiast’s library – Paul Skrebels, Sabretache, LXIV (1)52-53. March 2023.


Review: Taking the Ridge

“The depth of McNeill’s meticulous research is clear in this self-published book. It ranges from official records in New Zealand, Australian and German archives, to the letters and diaries of individual soldiers who were there. This book is not only the first full account of New Zealand’s efforts at Messines, but also the first work New Zealand military history to extensively use the records of German units and formations that fought in the battle. This is a significant achievement. …There is little doubt that it is now the definitive account of New Zealanders and Australians in this critical Western Front action. The book is rich in detail and sheds new light on a significant event of World War I” Glyn Harper, New Zealand Journal of History, 56(2) 136-137. 2022.



“Jeff McNeill has achieved what many authors aspire to – a book so comprehensive on its subject that one can hardly imagine anything left to write. While perhaps not really aimed at a general readership, a light reading would still give enough for someone unfamiliar with Great War history to get a feel for one battle in that huge, distant conflict.” – Neil Frances, The Volunteers, 48(1) 73-74, July 2022



 The richly-wrought detail and broad narrative sweep surely makes this account of a largely-forgotten World War I Western Front battle a necessity on the bookshelf of students of military history.

What a splendid gift it would make for a birthday or Christmas, for it sets a standard rarely to be seen in the genre, with features like a lengthy look at the geography of battle and the German side of events before, during and after.” – Alister Browne in the Manawatu Standard 13 July 2022

[click here for full article]

The Battle of Messines: Book details WWI battle that has been 'largely forgotten'

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Taking the Ridge: Anzacs & Germans at the Battle of Messines 1917

– Dr Jeffrey McNeill

NZ$79.99 incl. GST


Taking the Ridge tells a fresh story of the iconic First World War Battle of Messines 1917. Opening with 19 mines exploding under the German positions and over inside five hours, the battle was a sorely needed victory for the British troops who took the Flanders ridge near Ypres and in which a fifth of all New Zealand’s soldiers who served overseas would have somehow participated. Largely overlooked today, this was New Zealand’s battle of the war. But victory was not as complete as claimed. Anzac losses were far from light and the afternoon’s gains hung in the balance. Men and their generals were all tested. Taking the Ridge provides the definitive account of the New Zealand and Australian 3rd and 4th divisions’ actions as well as those of the German divisions opposite in that battle and its aftermath at La Basse-Ville and Passchendaele in a year of grim trench warfare.

Available at good bookshops and online

Read 10 Questions with Jeff McNeill [click here]

Meticulously researched and drawing on soldiers’ diaries and letters as well as New Zealand, Australian, British and German archival material, Taking the Ridge for the first time shows what the First World War battlefield and battle was like for soldiers on both sides in June 1917. The historical and geographical detail, contemporary photographs and specially drawn maps, all bring the story alive. Many readers will be able to trace the movements and actions of their soldier ancestors.



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The foot. Read Jeff’s story of finding a New Zealand rifleman’s foot at Mesen published in The Journal of Urgent Writing, Volume 1, 2016, Massey University Press. [click here]


You can hear Jeff being interviewed about this story on Radio New Zealand’s ‘Nights with Bryan Crump’ on 1 June 2017 [here]






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