The Plugstreet Archaeological Project
1st Australian Tunnelling Company
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1st Australian Tunnelling Company was formed in May 1916 from the Australian Mining Battalion which had been assembled from men with a background in civilian mining in early 1915 in Egypt with the intention of deployment at Gallipoli. Shortly after moving to France in May 1916 the battalion was split into the three Tunnelling Companies and one Special Company.
The 1st Australian Tunnelling Company relieved the British 175th Company RE in May 1916 in the Hooge area of the Ypres Salient. They took over the tunnels at Hill 60 in November 1916 from the Canadians preparing the mines for the Battle of Messines and undertook work on the Catacombs inside Hill 63 at Ploegsteert.
Those who served with The 1st Australian Tunnelling Company
at the Battle of Messines.
George Malcolm Spr.
Philip James Spr.
Robert Wilson 2nd Lt.
A. E. Capt.
John J Spr.
Wilfred Percival Capt. d.25th Apr 1917
Richard Patrick Spr.
George Alexander Spr.
Charles Edgar Spr. d.29th Oct 1918
John William S/Sgt.
Thomas Tasman Spr.
J. G. Spr.
Charles Sybil Adlamn Spr. d.18th Sep 1917
H. H. Lt
Paul Benjamin Spr.
William Shorthall Spr. d.5th May 1917
James Blair Spr. d.30th Oct 1917
Harry Michael Sgt.
Edward William Spr. d.28th Jul 1917
Glyndwr David 2nd Lt. d.26th Apr 1917
Kenneth George Spr. d.26th Apr 1917
James Douglas Mjr.
Nathaniel Spr. d.14th Sep 1917
J. T. Spr.
W. G. WO.
Henry Louis Spr.
Joseph Tasman Spr.
J. J. Spr.
William Walter Spr.
A. A. Spr.
Isaac Thomas Spr.
James Down Spr. d.13th June 1917
Thomas Henry "Harry" Spr.
J. B. Spr. d.7th Apr 1917
W. F. Spr.
- Stevenson MM.
John Cowan "Jock" S/Sgt.
Arthur Elton Lt. d.25th Apr 1917
R. J. Cpl.
John Harold Spr.
John Levi RQMS.
Oliver Holmes Capt.
Archie Joseph Spr d.20th Oct 1917
Beneath Flanders Fields: The Tunnellers War 1914-1918
Peter Barton, Peter Doyle & Johan Vandewalle
Whilst the war raged across Flanders fields, an equally horrifying and sometimes more dangerous battle took place underground. "Beneath Flanders Fields" tells the story of the tunnellers' war, which still remains one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented and mystifying conflicts of the Great War. A wealth of personal testimonies reveal the engineering, technology and science behind how this most intense of battles was fought - and won. They speak of how the tunnellers lived a relentless existence in the depths of the battlefield for almost two and a half years, enduring physical and mental stresses that were often more extreme than their infantry counterparts. Their lives were reduced to a complex war of silence, tension and claustrophobia, leading up to the most dramatic mine offensive in history launched on 7 June 1917 at Messines Ridge. Yet, Messines was not the end of their story, which continued with the crafting of a whole underground world of headquarters, cookhouses and hosMore information on:
Underground Warfare 1914-1918
Simon Jones's graphic history of underground warfare during the Great War uses personal reminiscences to convey the danger and suspense of this unconventional form of conflict. He describes how the underground soldiers of the opposing armies engaged in a ruthless fight for supremacy, covers the tunnelling methods they employed, and shows the increasingly lethal tactics they developed during the war in which military mining reached its apotheosis. He concentrates on the struggle for ascendancy by the British tunnelling companies on the Western Front. But his wide-ranging study also tells the story of the little known but fascinating subterranean battles fought in the French sectors of the Western Front and between the Austrians and the Italians in the Alps which have never been described before in English. Vivid personal testimony is combined with a lucid account of the technical challenges - and ever-present perils - of tunnelling in order to give an all-round insight into the extraordMore information on:
Beneath Hill 60 [DVD]
BENEATH HILL 60 tells the extraordinary true story of Oliver Woodward, the legendary Australian metal scientist. In 1916, Woodward faced the most difficult decision, ultimately having to separate from his new young love for the deadly carnage of the Western Front. On treacherous territory, behind the German enemy lines, Woodward and his secret platoon of Australian tunnelers face a suicidal battle to defend a leaking, tunnel system. A tunnel packed with enough high explosives to change the course of the War.More information on:
Hill 60: Ypres (Battleground Europe)
The shell-ravaged landscape of Hill 60, some three miles south east of Ypres, conceals a labyrinth of tu nnels and underground workings. This book offers a guide to the memorials, cemeteries and museums at the site 'More information on:
Beneath Hill 60 [Paperback]
'Ten seconds, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one - fire! Down goes the firing switch. At first, nothing. Then from deep down there comes a low rumble, and it as if the world is spliting apart...' On 7th June 1917, nineteen massive mines exploded beneath Messines Ridge near Ypres. The largest man-made explosion in history up until that point shattered the landscape and smashed open the German lines. Ten thousand German soldiers died. Two of the mines - at Hill 60 and the Caterpillar - were fired by men of the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company, comprising miners and engineers rather than parade-ground soldiers. Drawing on the diaries of one of the key combatants, "Benealth Hill 60" tells the little-known, devastatingly brutal true story of this subterranean war waged beneath the Western Front - a stygian battle-ground where men drowned in viscous chalk, suffocated in the blue gray clay, choked on poisonous air or died in the darkness, caught up up in vicious hand-to-hanMore information on:
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