WW1 Photos Centenary Website: 2014-2018 By Paul Reed

Messines: Tunnels and Trenches

The village of Messines was heavily defended by the Germans and the sizeable trench seen in the above image dating from early 1917 shows part of their defence network on the outskirts of the village.

In the next episode of WW1 Tunnels of Death: The Big Dig the team explore the underground war at Messines and during the dig Simon Verdegem and his team of archaeologists uncovered a previously unknown German tunnel network. It was quite something accessing tunnels that no-one had been down since 1918. The timber which lined the tunnels was in exceptional condition and it is hoped that some of the tunnel system will be reconstructed in a future Messines museum, due to open in 2014.

German Tunnel system with roof on, Messines 2012


The same German tunnel with the roof off, Messines 2012

6 responses

  1. Great programme, looking forward to next week. But first gas attacks were at Pilckem / Boezinghe in April 2015. Germans could have rolled up the salient but having been ordered to stop at 3 rd French trench did so. Had they not they would have got to Pop, closed channel ports and Schlieffen plan may just have worked.

    08/11/2012 at 21:03

    • sommecourt

      The programme didn’t say it was the first gas attack, just the first of that type at Messines.

      I think you mean 1915?

      09/11/2012 at 08:17

  2. Really enjoying the Messines series, and many thanks for the very informative Great War series.

    12/11/2012 at 12:00

  3. Interested to see the 1914 grave in the first programme. Apart from the alcove of similar graves in Pops Old Military cemetery, I haven’t seen many 1914 graves. I seem to recall hearing that the policy of non repatriation really began in 1915: is that true?

    12/11/2012 at 12:03

  4. Ray Foster

    Is there any chance that you are going to have a DVD of your Messines Trench excavation available. I would be very interested in seeing your work. Channel 5 never responded to e-mails.

    Ray Foster California,USA

    28/11/2012 at 03:24

    • sommecourt

      I have no idea re a DVD from Ch5 but it the programme will be on the PBS Channel in the US sometime in 2013.

      28/11/2012 at 15:08

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