Tunnellers Hardcover – 20 Jan 1986
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Top Customer Reviews
I’m sure we all have at least a vague idea about the horrors of the trenches in the First World War, but few of us will know much about the warfare carried out below ground. Miles of tunnel were driven by both sides, in moves and counter moves designed to get beyond defences and eventually to detonate stupendous charges under the enemy lines. The results of these great explosions remain to this day.
Raymond Hitchcock describes the subterranean struggle in such convincing detail that it is hard to believe he was not actually present. The technicalities and jargon of tunnelling, and of handling explosive charges, are expertly handled. There is no hint that the author “boned up” on the topic and then simply reproduced the information.
The fates of two young men, plucked from the rural coal-field of Somerset and set to work in the galleries of the Ypres salient, are played out in a series of flash-backs to their former days of dalliance with auburn-haired Alice, along the abandoned Radstock canal. Hitchcock pulls no punches in describing the fate of men under fire, and in desperate conditions.
Top Notch is the title of the print series edited by Mike Ripley and top notch is the quality of “The Tunnellers”. Action-packed from cover to cover, the late Raymond Hitchcock is to be congratulated on a fine historical thriller, an absolute must for followers of the genre.
Tim Coles. January 2016.
Two teenagers falsify their ages to volunteer for service in the Somerset Yeomanry. But, although too young to be experience miners, because of their family backgrounds they are posted to the Royal Engineers as tunnellers. A roof collapses trapping the more thoughtful of the two with a massive charge. As the days count down to detonation he hallucinates, reminiscing over his short life, and the rigid three tier military hierarchy; the rank conscious officers, the men and the NCOs corrupted by their promotion from the ranks.
More horror story than conventional thriller, the true crime is the criminal disregard for human life by the ruling classes who rate the lower orders as sub human cannon fodder.