World War One’s Tunnels of Death:Big Dig
2 x 60
These films follow the biggest excavation of WW1 – a 2km gas pipe running through the heart of the Messines battle site. The Battle of Messines was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting in WWI – every nation involved in the conflict fought here. In June 1917, the allies dug tunnels under the German trenches and exploded 19 mines. In one blast, 10,000 Germans lost their lives. The explosion was heard across Europe. We film the archaeologists and bomb squad officers unearthing the best preserved WW1 trenches ever found, alongside bunkers, tunnels and unexploded gas shells. A few inches below the ground we find bullets in their hundreds – and film a cupboard unopened for nearly 100 years – stuffed full of live German hand grenades.
Channel 5 / ARTE BBC World Wide distribution