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Beneath Flanders Fields: The Tunnellers' War, 1914-1918 [Paperback]

Peter Barton , John Vandewalle , Peter Doyle
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
Price: 17.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

20 Jan 2007
The true and amazing story of Birdsong has never been fully told - until now.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Spellmount Publishers Ltd; illustrated edition edition (20 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 186227357X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862273573
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 27.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Peter Barton, like so many others, derived his passion for the Great War from his grandfather, who served in a veterinary unit near Ypres, and from veteran friends like Bert Fearns, to whom this book is dedicated. He is a filmmaker and writer, and secretary of the All Party Parliamentary War Graves and Battlefields Heritage Group. Peter Doyle is a geologist - and latterly an archaeologist - with a special interest in the role of geology and terrain in the outcome of battles. Amongst others, he has made studies of the Great War battlefields of the Western Front, Gallipoli and Salonika. With Peter Barton, he is co-secretary of the All Parliamentary War Graves and Battlefields Heritage Group. Johan Vandewalle was born and bred in Zonnebeke. He grew up surrounded by the legacy of the Great War, and many childhood adventures involved things subterranean. Although today a skilled carpenter, his working life began as a professional civil engineer tunneller, and the combined knowledge of both disciplines has created a passion and technical understanding of the underground war which has made him the foremost explorer of the tunnels and dugouts in Flanders. Johan can be found on most evenings at his other business, the Cafe De Dreve on the corner of Polygon Wood, the home of the underground war in the Ypres Salient.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget Birdsong! 10 Nov 2004
By A Customer
Whilst the common reader will not mind (or indeed know) Birdsong borrows wholesale from older accounts, this definitive tome accurately depicts a) how WW1 underground warfare was fought on the Western Front b) presents illustrated eye-witness accounts of previous unpublished work and c) how 30 years of research on the battlefield by the authors, mostly for the first time, has discovered significant parts of the tunnel system, with Flanders Fields geology preserving artifacts and systems to a unique degree.
There are plentiful contemporary diagrams and photographs of projected operations as well as modern colour photographs of the author's investigations. The three author's different specialties avoids the common author bias of single author books, with the eye for detail giving the military and amateur enthusiast alike a mass of information.
A must for the military and amateur enthusiast at a very reasonable hardback price, this book fills a gap of a little known but highly important theatre of operations, little known due to the secrecy involved in wartime mining.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for Great War enthusiasts! 1 Feb 2007
There is no doubt, that many excellent books have been written and published on the wide ranging and different aspects of the Great War, these include both general as well as specialist publications which are aimed at either the general reader or expert or often both. I have personally read many books on this tragic conflict, some I find fascinating, others are rather run of the mill and are possibly recycled from previous publications. This splendid title is however one that shines out and I am sure, it will be of tremendous interest to a wide audience of both amateur and professional military historians, researchers and general readers alike.

The war beneath the "killing fields" of the Western Front has in my opinion until now been overshadowed and often neglected by authors and publishers by what took place above the ground. This truly magnificent book will, without a doubt do much to draw attention to the skilful , yet unseen game of "cat and mouse" that was taking place in the damp and dirty tunnels underground.

I can honestly say that this volume made interesting reading and succeeded in stimulating my own interest in carrying out further research into this fascinating aspect of the Great War. The authors (all tunnelling experts), have in fact been inundated with enquiries on this subject since the publication of Sebastian Faulke's "Birdsong" and have as a result carried out over twenty five years painstaking research, excavations and investigation to be able to produce this brilliant title.

The book is packed with a tremendous amount of gripping information and is backed up with a host of colourful maps, in excess of 450 colour as well as black and white photographs and many highly detailed and professional diagrams. Many of the photographs are unique and will keep the reader engrossed like I was for many hours.

If there is one book to buy on this intriguing subject, this is it - I am sure you will not be disappointed!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific book! 15 Jan 2008
By Tom S
As other reviwers have said, this is superbly researched and put together. The mix of original photos and plans with modern photos of the tunnels and dugouts as they appear now, plus the combination of eyewitness comments and authors' commentary make this a superb production. Having visited mine craters and a few dugouts and the tunnel system at Vimy, this book made me appreciate more fully the scale and organisation of this activity on both sides. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid book, mandatory 23 April 2011
Interesting well written book on a somewhat obscure and not that documented topic. The author manages to write a general portrait of the tunnellers war while at the same time doing a splendid job covering all the technical basis.
You'll find a bit of everything, the daily life of the sappers, the claustrophobia, the geology of Flanders and how technical problems were overcome, and the unfortunate and gruesome reality of war in the tunnels, or the frenetic digging from both sides as they both tried to gain an advantage and "lift" the other side with inordinate amounts of explosives planted below their trenches and strongholds. Specially interesting as well is the battlefield archaeology, the state of some galleries today that for some reason or other were drained, and that provide a glimpse into a surreal claustrophobic world complete with mattresses, bottles, spent cartridges, abandoned explosives where galleries had long collapsed.
If you're a mining engineer, a geologist, or have some interest in military engineer corps or in WW1 History in general, this book is absolutely mandatory. The way the authors manage to connect the many threads from many disciplines in a coherent narrative without burdening the reader with a dry speech while at the same time documenting solidly everything is superbly done. There's a good assortment of period photographs and the occasional diagrams illustrating shafts, galleries, geology, as well as contemporary photographs from recently found galleries, and their dangers. Many thanks to the authors for a splendid job.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book! 8 Feb 2008
Quite simply one of the best books on the Great War I have ever read. Beautifully written and with a wealth of photos and diagrams it transports you back to the dark days of the Salient.
Buy it.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, thorough and beautifully presented 14 Aug 2005
By A Customer
This is a beautiful book about an awful subject. It is put together with great care and skill and carries the reader through. I am not particularly a war buff but I found this unputdownable. It is clearly a labour of love and the years of work that have gone into it have created an absolutely marvelous book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought for a WW1 fan who found it very interesting... Lots of detail... And photos
Published 1 month ago by Pauline Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Very graphic account....
I bought this for a friend who expressed an interest in The Great War mining business after seeing the BBC program 'Peaky Blinders' in which some of the characters were mining... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mr. A. Hardie
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
I bought this book for my stepson who is into WW1 history after we went on an organized tour of the WW1 battle fields in Sept 2012 and where we met the author Peter Barton... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Jem
5.0 out of 5 stars 1ST WORLD WAR TUNNELERS
a fantastic book best one on tunnelers of the first world war i have read yet.

and a great insight into the dangers that faced them deep below the surface
Published 17 months ago by john
5.0 out of 5 stars Review
Very interesting and thorough, many diagrams, photos and first-hand accounts of those brave men.
Very well researched and a valued addition to my WW1 collection
Published 18 months ago by Daniel Benest
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
A thoroughly researched and smoothly written book on a fascinating subject. How did the 'moles' cope with the claustrophobia? VC's all round.
Published 20 months ago by William Rowlinson Carter
5.0 out of 5 stars World War 1 Tunnelers
This is one of the best written and best illustrated books on a military theme I have ever read. It covers the background of the early war in Ypres, the geology and its... Read more
Published 22 months ago by pete1000
4.0 out of 5 stars the underground war.
I have read several books about the Great War but knew nothing about the war going on below ground on the Western Front. Read more
Published on 31 Dec 2011 by roadrunner
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual topic expertly covered
Having waited nearly two years for this book to come back into print I hoped the wait was worth it. I was not disappointed. Read more
Published on 30 May 2011 by Trenchfinder
5.0 out of 5 stars A little-known, but brutal part of the Great War
I am researching for a planned novel about the Great War Tunnellers and this was a wonderful find. I bought it after meeting Johan Vandewalle, one of the authors. Read more
Published on 10 Nov 2010 by Mr. W. J. Neil
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