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Beneath Flanders Fields: The Tunnellers' War, 1914-1918 Hardcover – 1 Sep 2003
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About the Author
The authors: Peter Barton is a filmmaker and military historian specializing in the underground war. Peter Doyle is a geologist and expert on the role of terrain in World War I. Johan Vandewalle is an archaeologist, photographer and the foremost explorer of the forgotten tunnels of Flanders.
Top customer reviews
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.
This book is a real eye opener as to what was happening beneath the trenches.
There were 1000's of guys involved in tunnelling under German lines to plant tons and tons of explosives at many places along the front in order to blow up enemy trenches to try and possibly shorten and win the war.
There were 1000's of casualties on both sides due to the effects of this form of warfare, and huge craters left all along the Western Front.
This is a well written book with plenty of illustrations and photos, recommended reading for those with an interest in the Great War.
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.
The detail is superb. Not just the anecdotal and physical evidence still available but the maps which have been found or recreated, the technical and geological data. All of this makes the book so much more than just a good read. It is a useful tool for military historians. There was so much information to absorb which led to (in my case) a much better understanding of the tunnellers' war, something I thought I had a good grasp of anyway but was surprised to see I had vastly underestimated the extent of this facet of WW1 in Flanders.
The pictures and illustration were of admirable quality and help very much with one's appreciation of the different approaches from both sides to the tunnel and bunker war.
Seriously a very nice volume, that is often expensive, because it deserves to be. Full colour on many pages, good hardback, quality research, quotations from original letters and documents, diagrams and maps. Doubtless benefits from Doyle's particular geological angle. 'Tunnellers' and 'War Underground' were both good books, but arguably this takes the whole subject to a new level (depth actually, but you know what I mean !)
Ignore me - I'm just jealous - congratualtions to all concerned. Now go and buy this book - I did and never regretted it.