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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.

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.


100 Years Ago Today

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

100 years ago today on the 1st of June 1917 preparations for the planned attack were well underway. As the men of the infantry units rehearsed the action over practice trenches in the training areas, the artillery were already in action. Across the front line, the German artillery responded, shelling a wide area, reaching well behind allied lines.

33rd Battalion AIF were billeted at Nieppe, in addition to their intense training schedule, they supplied working parties to assist with preparations.


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