First World War in the News is an edited review of hand-picked World War I (1914-1918) articles - covering everything from the soldiers and generals to the trenches and militaria.

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From Soldiers to Generals
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The Great War -era
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World War II

American Civil War

Forts and Tunnels

Latest hand-picked First World War news.

Inside France's secret WWI bunker: Urban explorers find wartime weapons stowed away in underground quarry
A sprawling military bunker containing a treasure trove of vehicles and weaponry spanning more than two world wars has been discovered at a secret location deep within a French forest. Like a giant time capsule, the huge installation, carved out of solid rock, contains wartime relics from a German 77mm Model-1896 World War One cannon to military vehicles dating from the 1960s and 1970s. It was discovered by a team which specialises in exploring urban areas. Although they will not reveal the exact location, the bunker once formed part of the Maginot line.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Archaeologists find the bodies of 21 WW1 German soldiers in perfectly preserved trenches where they were buried alive (photos)
The bodies of 21 German soldiers entombed in a WWI shelter have been discovered 94 years after they were killed. The men were part of a larger group of 34 who were buried alive when a huge Allied shell exploded above the tunnel in 1918, causing it to cave in. 13 bodies were recovered, but the remaining men had to be left under a mountain of mud as it was too dangerous to retrieve them. French archaeologists stumbled upon the mass grave during excavation work for a road building project. As well as the bodies, personal effects such as boots, helmets, weapons, etc, were also found.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Never-before-seen images of the tunnels dug by British clay-kickers under German lines in First World War
Flanders fields today bears little sign of the four years of war that ravaged this corner of the Western Front. But deep below the surface there remains a constant reminder of the bravery of the men who risked their lives for their country. Beneath the farmers ploughs, most of the tunnels hewn from the earth by English pitmen to undermine the German offensive remain intact. The British Tunnelling Companies were formed in the early months of the war to counter the German miners who were blowing British trenches. Pitmen from mining communities in Wales and the north and the ‘clay-kickers` who built the London Underground were recruited to provide protected shelter for the troops.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Archaeologists about to excavate site of a WWI tunnel war (photos)
Archaeologists are beginning the most detailed ever study of a Western Front battlefield, an untouched site where 28 British tunnellers lie entombed. For WWI historians, it's the "holy grail". When military historian Jeremy Banning stepped on to a patch of scrubland in France, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. The privately owned land in the rural village of La Boisselle had been untouched since fighting ended in 1918. In his hand was a selection of photos of some of the British tunnellers killed in bloody subterranean battles there, and who lay entombed under his feet.
(bbc.co.uk)

Excavations reveal underground life of WWI soldiers on Western Front
Built 50ft underneath the killing fields of the Western Front, World War I "tunnel towns" gave British troops shelter from the massacre above and provided the closest the men had to comfort. Now, for the first time since the troops moved out, archaeologists have excavated a network of the tunnels, near Ypres which saw some of the war's heaviest fighting, as well as some of the most extensive tunnelling. The survey of the bunker, called Vampire, has shed new light on the experiences of the tens of thousands of soldiers who lived in similar underground workings, with dozens of items of everyday life recovered.
(telegraph.co.uk)

First World War troops recall life in Western Front tunnel towns
Corporal Frank Williams, 4th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment: "Now I am in the trenches again at a different place. It is a lonely desolate place... we have not to show a sign of life during the day, only come out at nights. Fritz is sending over his big shells but we are quite safe. This is a big dugout 70-80 feet down in the ground, room for 50 men... It is pitch dark, except for a candle here and there, and one sees dark shadowy forms moving about, and little bits of flickering fires when men are struggling to make a brewing of tea. The place is full of smoke, a mixture of tobacco, candles and wood."
(telegraph.co.uk)

Inside the World War I cave city under Arras [pictures]
The wax is still melted on to the chalk pillar which served as an altar for the Suffolk Regiment. Helmets are around the floor. Flagons of rum, perhaps to numb the fear of the battle ahead. Further down the labyrinth, arrow points up to "No 10 Exit". A staircase leads up to a tunnel and on through 60ft of chalk towards the outside world. In 1917 it led to daylight. But it was also a stairway to hell. Scarred by the Somme in 1916, British generals came up with a new strategy: A series of medieval quarries would be connected by tunnels to create the most extensive underground network in British military history.
(dailymail)

The secret underground WW1 city built by British Tommies opened to visitors
An underground city - beneath the town of Arras - where thousands of British soldiers lived in the First World War has been partially rebuilt. It kept safe up to 24,000 troops from German artillery bombardment. The area was already riddled with mine shafts and cellars, some from the Middle Ages, when British High Command ordered the "secret city of Arras" to be constructed. English Miners and Londoners who had built the Underground were joined by Maoris on the 18-month project. A surprise attack on German lines was launched from the underground city but it ended in stalemate after 4,000 a day casualties.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Scots' World War One underground shelter discovered in Ypres
A World War I underground shelter made by Scottish troops has been unearthed in Ypres. The Vampire Dugout was discovered by archaeologists on the site of the 1917 Battle of Passchendaele. Now experts are preparing to enter the tunnel complex. 25 men from B company of the 9th Battalion Highland Light Infantry Regiment spent 3 months in 1918 building the shelters and headquarters. Historian Peter Barton said: "We've had to pump out gallons of water from the tunnels... items like beds, weapons, clothing... will still be intact. So far we've recovered a clip of rifle ammunition, a water container, machine parts and even a brass safety pin."
(dailyrecord)

Western Front: Exploits of NZ tunnellers showed in a museum 22m underground
France: On the streets of Arras people head to work. But below the city, a maze of tunnels probe deep into the rock. The darkness become oppressive, raised only by astonishment at how any man could work and fight in this underworld. Yet such was the life of a band of Kiwis: the 446 men of the New Zealand Tunnelling Company, whose feats on WW1's Western Front are being presented in a museum 22m below ground. The tunnellers were brought to France in a bid to break the gridlock of trench warfare. Allied commanders dealing with the barbed wire, machine-gun nests and concrete shelters saw that the best chance of a breakthrough might come from underground.
(nzherald)

WW1 tunnels to yield their secrets - British troops on the Western Front
As battle raged across the battlefields of Flanders, British soldiers found respite from the horrors of the Great War in "underground towns" far below the mud. Now, more than 90 years after the dozens of miles of tunnels were flooded, the task of revealing their secrets has begun. The prize is an insight into the lives of British troops on the Western Front as historians believe that, because of the absence of light and oxygen in the flooded tunnels, possessions, such as weapons, helmets and uniforms, will have been preserved and will be found as they were left in 1918. According to the original trench maps hospitals, mess rooms, blacksmiths were hewn from the soil.
(telegraph.co.uk)

Researcher finds site of World War I vets' tent city
Lieutenant colonel Ray Smith came across Army captain surgeon Charles Albert Lubrecht's memoirs at the Military History Institute. He was digging for information on an Army station hospital when he noticed a file on Camp Greenlief where his father trained as a medic during WWI. Smith reviewed the file and, reading through the memoirs, found a reference to a "tent colony" on the property of millionaire John Lindner. "I was astounded. I just did not know what to think about it." He never knew a rest camp for WWI veterans existed where he used to play golf years ago. Up to 100 veterans at a time were invited to rest at Camp Lindner before being discharged from military service.
(cumberlink)

Digging up the past: trenches, pillboxes, underground tunnels
By the end of World War 1 life on the surface had become indefensible. Tons of steel fell from the sky in an almost continuous bombardment. The Germans retreated into concrete pillboxes. The British dug further underground. Today we often picture the British Tommy leaning against the wall of his trench. In reality, particularly around the Belgian town of Ypres, tens of thousands were living up to 40ft beneath the ground. That is how far they had to dig to be safe from the German shelling. Historian Peter Barton, expert in underground warfare, is hoping to be able to get back into the tunnels.
(bbc)

Princess Sophie von Hohenberg wants Franz Ferdinand's castle
When Gavrilo Princip stepped forward on a Sarajevo street and fired a pistol, he sent history stumbling down an unexpected path. The targets were Franz Ferdinand, archduke of Austria-Este, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie. The world went to war, maps were redrawn. Now, Franz Ferdinand's great-granddaughter, Her Serene Highness Princess Sophie von Hohenberg, hopes to get Franz Ferdinand's castle back. The 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain- en-Laye carved up the old Hapsburg empire into new states. The Hapsburg family, which had ruled that part of Europe for more than 600 years, was stripped of its properties and titles.
(iht)

Historic forts used in the Gallipoli war being restored
The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism is about to complete the restoration of two historic forts that played important roles during the Gallipoli War. The project carried out within the context of the Long Term Development Plan (UDGP) is restoring the forts of Namazgah and Mecidiye for the first time. The forts, which had long been neglected, are now being converted into open-air museums. Ömer Yörükoğlu said that the original construction of the forts, to be used 21 years later during the 1915 Gallipoli War, had begun in the 1840's with the final touches added in 1894.
(todayszaman)

New use for WWI fort located on a man-made island
A World War I fort in the middle of the Humber estuary could form the next frontline in the war against drugs. Mr Ball said that addicts on a man-made island sounded drastic, but was necessary to help those who had long-term habits. Bull Sands Fort stands on an island of concrete built in 1915 to protect the mouth of the Humber from German attack. Standing 18m above the tidal waters with a 25m diameter, the imposing concrete structure provided accommodation for 200 soldiers. Team of volunteers have spent the last 5 years preparing the site for habitation. The RAF has provided helicopters to lower generators onto the island to power the tools needed to convert the building.
(bbc)