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Plugstreet Blog

This is the new blog of the Plugstreet Archaeological Project.

   A Great War themed project exploring sites around Comines-Warneton and Messines in Belgium.    The project is being led by members of No Man's Land - The European Group for Great War    Archaeology and the Comines-Warneton Historical Society.

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We are currently seeking a sponsor for this website as it follows the progress of the excavations on the battlefield, with contributions from established historians and well known experts, as the team attempt to match the historical evidence and family history to the archaeology on the ground.

Please contact us for more details.

If you enjoy this website please consider making a donation towards the costs of the project.


Sunday, June 4th, 2017

The 33rd Battalion AIF, the unit our project has been following over the last ten years, report in their war diary “Final Training very unsatisfactory owing to the number of men away on working parties. It was found practically impossible to carry on with any satisfaction at all.”

Church Parade was held in the morning. The medical staff returned to their posts and continued to make the final preparations, the casualty clearing stations and field hospitals were ready to accept the inevitable wounded, supplies were packed and ready for those who would move forward with the advance and set up dressing stations where they would be needed most. Meanwhile, the officers of the units which would be making the attack made a recce of the routes up to the front lines. All day the artillery continued to steadily bombard the enemy, their spotters picking out the enemy batteries as they retaliated, the locations being relayed back to the gun layers so the aim could be adjusted.


Preparing the Mines

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

With the endless roar of steady artillery fire as accompaniment, the preparations for the attack on Messines Ridge continued. Some of the huge mines which were to open the attack had lain in the chambers deep beneath the German front line for many months, but not all were ready. Beneath the famed Hill 60 to the east of Ypres, 53,500 lbs of explosive lay in wait, just across the railway line, its twin beneath the spoil heap known as the Caterpillar relied on electric pumps to prevent the chamber from re-flooding, even 70,000 lbs of explosive would not detonate correctly under water. Captain Oliver Woodward, and his firing party tended their charge anxiously. Two miles to the south the Canadian Tunnellers had only completed loading the chamber on the 28th of May. This mine just south of the road junction at St Eloi contained the largest charge of the war, 95,600lbs of ammonal. At Maedelsteade Farm near Whitesteets, the sappers were still loading the chamber, the mine shaft here had been the last to be sunk. At Ontario Farm, directly beneath the western slope at Messines had also hit problems, here the ground was sandy and constant seepage into the tunnel threatened to break the firing wires. As yet none of the Engineers knew how exactly how much more time they had to prepare their charges.


Opening of the Plugstreet Interpretation Centre

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Today a number of our team are attending the opening of the new Interpretation Centre at Ploegsteert.
A video clip from No Tele showing part of the display is available at
Ploegsteert: inauguration de Plugstreet

A few photos from the opening ceremony are available on the Ploegsteert Blog
The new website for the new centre will be:
Plugstreet 14-18 experience



Monday, July 29th, 2013

The entire project team would like to extend their congratulations to Avril and James MacNaughton, two of the core team at Plugstreet, on the occasion of their wedding in Chandler Arizona on Saturday 27th August 2013. With our best wishes for a long and happy life together.


Laying of the First Stone

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Last week, the ceremonial first stone of the Plugstreet 14-18 Interpretation Centre was laid by The Australian Ambassador, Dr Brendan Nelson, and Mayor Gilbert Deleu.

Gilbert Deleu said: “Comines-Warneton is the only territory of Wallonia, which was occupied by the belligerent forces, with Ploegsteert as the southernmost part of the Ypres Salient. Within two kilometers, there are thirteen cemeteries, 35 concrete structures, four craters and the Catacombs appointed in 1917. The goal is to absorb the experiences of soldiers and civilians. The set design is based on testimonies, photographs, maps, relics and newspapers through international collaborations with British and Australian historians and at the initiative of a scientific committee, the Walloon Association for Heritage and Archaeological Historical Society of Comines-Warneton. ”

Watch the local news report

The Plugstreet Tem are proud to be involved and we look forward to seeing the development of the site.


The Last Post Ceremony in Ploegsteert, 11 November 2011

Friday, November 11th, 2011

We would like to share with you this video of the Armistice Ceremony at the Plugstreet Memorial on 11-11-2011, in memory of all those who served.


Drink Pink for Heroes

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Last year the team did their bit for current service personnel. In addition to drinking various Belgian beers the team drank pink for Heroes.

Kirsty, who runs the bar at the Peace Village, as well as supervising a team, had a brainwave. If we sold pints of squash we could raise money got Help for Heroes. That’s what we did and we made 150 Euros or £135 for H4H.

We will be doing the same thing again this year, this time for the Army Benevolent Fund.

What better feeling than a cooling drink after a hot day on site AND knowing the investigations of yesterday’s soldiers are helping today’s!


Messines Anniversary

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Richard spent 7th June 2011 marking the anniversary of the Battle of Messines working on a piece of New Zealand military heritage.

In 1919 a giant kiwi was carved into the chalk of Salisbury Plain by troops from NZ waiting to be shipped home. Today that kiwi still survives, glowing white above Bulford but it only looks nice because each year it is maintained by volunteers who include serving soldiers, staff from the New Zealand High Commission, local Scouts and other volunteers.

In recent years another of the NML team has been assisting. Bev is a kiwi in exile and has strong family links with the military.


Messines in Miniature

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Readers of the latest edition of Military Times will be able to read an article by Martin about the model of Messines and its defences that was constructed by men of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade at their training camp on Cannock Chase (Staffordshire).

The model is made of cement and brickends and depicts the town and the German trenches defending it. The NZRB model is a copy of the tactical model of the wider battlefield created at Petit Pont. This example was used as a briefing tool for troops ahead of the Messines action and film shows the Australian 3rd Div studying it.

We believe we have identified the site of the model and hope to search for remains this summer.


Remembrance Day

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns fell silent, 92 years later we pause to spend a minute in silence to remember those who fell in the war to end all wars and in the conflicts which have followed.

Today the Plugstreet Team will be attending Remembrance Day services across the world. Please click here to join us in a moment of reflection to remember those who gave so much.

Lest We Forget

Remembrance events attended by members of the Plugstreet Team include:_

  • The opening of the Afghan Memorial Garden at Lydiard Park on Tuesday. This field of remembrance is dedicated to those who have lost their lives in Afghanistan, and will be open daily from 9am to 4pm from November 9 until November 21.
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  • The service at Victoria Station, London, to commemorate the
    90th anniversary of the arrival of the body of the Unknown Warrior prior
    to his interment on 11.11.20 in Westminster Abbey. Organised by the London branch of the WFA, small exhibition is held at platform 8, on the evening of the 10th of November, with the Last Post and two minutes silence without interruption from station announcements. This year there was a very good turnout, complete with British Legion
    flags and about eight wreaths, mostly from rail companies and staff. Click to view a slide show of photos.
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  • The re-dedication of the war memorial at Ingrow station on the Kieghley and Worth Valley line. This memorial to railwaymen who fell in the Great War, has recently been re-discovered.

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  • Northampton Branch of the WFA, where Martin gave an evening talk on our work.
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  • RAF Middleton St George Remembrance Service at Durham Tees Valley Airport.This service remembers the contribution of the Commonwealth Forces to both world wars and current conflicts, especially the RCAF who were based there during the Second World War. This year the service was well attended despite atrocious weather, fortunately the heavy rain stopped just before the service began and as the wreaths were laid, a rainbow appeared over the St George Hotel, previously the Officer’s Mess when the base was active.



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