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The Plugstreet Archaeological Project

3rd Canadian Tunnelling Company





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3rd Canadian Tunnelling Company was formed at St Marie Cappel in January 1916 from the original mining sections of the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions. The new Company began work at Spanbroekmolen in front of Messines ridge preparing for the Battle of Messines. They worked at the Bluff in early 1916, and Hill 60 in August 1916, being relieved by 1st Australian Company in November 1916. The 3rd Canadian Tunnellers took over tunnelling operations at the southern end of the ridge, continuing work already begun on the forked tunnels at Trench 127, Trench 122 (Ultimo and Factory Farm) and The Bird Cage close to Ploegsteert Wood. It was decided not to detonate the mines at The Bird Cage, and the 3rd Canadian Tunnellers sucessfully ignited thier other mines at the appointed time of 3.10am on the 7th of June 1917.

After the Spring offesive in April 1918, when the enemy broke through the Lys positions the 3rd Canadian Tunnellers were put on duties that included digging and wiring trenches over a long distance from Reninghelst to near St Omer. After the Armistice in Novemeber 1918 the Company repaired the waterworks at Roubaix.



Those who served with The 3rd Canadian Tunnelling Company

at the Battle of Messines.

  • Chilcot  
  • Arthur Frederick Sapper
  • Chilcot  
  • Arthur Frederick Sapper
  • Maclean
  • Pte.




    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 hos


    Underground Warfare 1914-1918

    Simon Jones


    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 extraord
    More information on:

    Underground Warfare 1914-1918






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