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Inside the real Birdsong tunnels: Never-before-seen images of the mines dug by British
Mail Online (UK) ^ | January 27, 2012 | Charles Walford

Posted on 01/27/2012 11:39:41 PM PST by Neil E. Wright

Full title:

Inside the real Birdsong tunnels: Never-before-seen images of the mines 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 claimed so many thousands of lives and ravaged this small corner of the Western Front.

But further down, deep below the surface there remains a constant reminder of the bravery and daring of the men who risked their lives for their country.

Beneath the farmers ploughs, most of the tunnels and dug-outs hewn from the earth by English pitmen to literally undermine the German offensive remain intact, untouched for almost 100 years.

They were also the scene of fierce hand-to-hand combat between diggers from both armies, as portrayed in the Sebastian Faulks novel Birdsong.

The tunnel sealed off by British troops during the First World War was excavated in 1997 and found to be intact

The tunnel sealed off by British troops during the First World War was excavated in 1997 and found to be intact


(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: britishminers; tunnels; war; wwi
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Lots of pics at the link. An interesting tidbit of history.

“Where liberty dwells, there is my country." –Benjamin Franklin

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1 posted on 01/27/2012 11:39:51 PM PST by Neil E. Wright
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To: Neil E. Wright

Of all the wars of any century, fought by any people on any continent, none haunt me or churn my guts like the Western Front, 1914 - 1918. May they rest in peace, and may God keep them all. All of them.


2 posted on 01/27/2012 11:51:47 PM PST by Psalm 144 (Voodoo Republicans: Don't read their lips - watch their hands.)
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To: Neil E. Wright

Incredible stories!

My grandfather, born in Ohio, was of German heritage. His father disinherited his son for fighting against the Fatherland in WWI.

Poor grandpa! He was hit with mustard gas and had scarred lungs the rest of his life. He worked as a journeyman electrician and my grandmother as a cook to support their family during the depression. When he broke his back while working on a dam project, it was really tough on the family.

His oldest son, my Uncle Jim, served in the Army in WWII. My Uncle John served in the Marines during the Korean conflict. In the next generation, my cousin Chris served in the Airforce while I served in the Navy.

If you want to live and breathe free, you have to fight to stay free.


3 posted on 01/27/2012 11:59:02 PM PST by SatinDoll (NO FOREIGN NATIONALS AS OUR PRESIDENT)
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To: Neil E. Wright

Wow. we are nothing, as free men, but for their wretched determination.

Very humbling.

Hope I never suffer rot foot


4 posted on 01/28/2012 12:08:32 AM PST by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously, you won't live through it anyway)
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To: Neil E. Wright

Interesting. Thanks


5 posted on 01/28/2012 12:09:07 AM PST by patriot08 (TEXAS GAL- born and bred and proud of it!Ho)
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To: Psalm 144
Of all the wars of any century, fought by any people on any continent, none haunt me or churn my guts like the Western Front, 1914 - 1918.

To that, and not to slight in the least the sacrifices of WWI or any other conflict, I would add the American Civil War; in lives, one of the costliest in human history.

6 posted on 01/28/2012 12:20:42 AM PST by luvbach1 (Stop the destruction in 2012 or continue the decline)
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To: Neil E. Wright

This would be fascinating to tour, but very eerie and depressing. Amazing that something like this becomes a permanent landmark, so to speak. Thanks for sharing it.


7 posted on 01/28/2012 12:23:49 AM PST by edge919
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To: Neil E. Wright
Anyone who finds 'Birdsong' interesting, should also check out the recent Australian film 'Beneath Hill 60'. While most of the mining units were British, there were some Australian units among them as well, and this film concentrated on one of those units.

Trailer at YouTube

8 posted on 01/28/2012 1:31:29 AM PST by naturalman1975 ("America was under attack. Australia was immediately there to help." - John Winston Howard)
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To: Psalm 144

“Of all the wars of any century, fought by any people on any continent, none haunt me or churn my guts like the Western Front, 1914 - 1918. May they rest in peace, and may God keep them all. All of them.”

The next time FReepers refer to the French as “surrender monkeys”, or question their attitudes in WWII, remember that in WWI (the “war to end all wars”) they lost 1.7 million men. Our Civil War (in which both sides’ casualties were Americans) cost 600K.


9 posted on 01/28/2012 2:08:46 AM PST by kearnyirish2
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To: kearnyirish2

Modern estimates of the Civil War are closer to 750,000 to 780,000. Southern Generals didn’t report casualties at the end of the war, nor executions of deserters.


10 posted on 01/28/2012 2:20:28 AM PST by donmeaker (e is trancendental)
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To: donmeaker

Even with the higher figure, we haven’t lost as many men in all of our wars combined that the French lost in WWI. When they were asked to do it again 20 years later, the shell-shocked survivors politely declined.


11 posted on 01/28/2012 2:34:07 AM PST by kearnyirish2
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To: kearnyirish2

“The next time FReepers refer to the French as “surrender monkeys”, or question their attitudes in WWII, remember that in WWI (the “war to end all wars”) they lost 1.7 million men. Our Civil War (in which both sides’ casualties were Americans) cost 600K.”

The French in WWI and the CSA in the Civil War each lost roughly 20% of their male population. That does not include the wounded, only the dead.


12 posted on 01/28/2012 3:10:48 AM PST by Psalm 144 (Voodoo Republicans: Don't read their lips - watch their hands.)
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To: naturalman1975
Anyone who finds 'Birdsong' interesting, should also check out the recent Australian film 'Beneath Hill 60'.

I've got it. Good film.

13 posted on 01/28/2012 3:12:44 AM PST by Riley (The Fourth Estate is the Fifth Column.)
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To: Psalm 144

“The French in WWI and the CSA in the Civil War each lost roughly 20% of their male population.”

Do you think the Confederacy would have gone to war again in 1885? Would you call them “surrender monkeys” if they didn’t?


14 posted on 01/28/2012 3:19:14 AM PST by kearnyirish2
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To: kearnyirish2

Believe it or not many of them got excited about the Spanish-American War and joined. It was actually the first thing that brought many southerners back into active participation with the US as a whole. I doubt many of the veterans did though. It was men too young to have served in the struggle for independence.

Regarding France, their military history is impressive as a whole, going back to the early iron age. It is belittled in our culture largely because of our English roots, and that long standing rivalry. French performance is inconsistent though. When they’re hot they’re hot. When they are not . . .


15 posted on 01/28/2012 3:27:26 AM PST by Psalm 144 (Voodoo Republicans: Don't read their lips - watch their hands.)
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To: kearnyirish2

The French had to fight , it was in their own damn country.


16 posted on 01/28/2012 3:27:54 AM PST by DainBramage
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To: Psalm 144

“It is belittled in our culture largely because of our English roots, and that long standing rivalry.”

I never understood the rivalry; Celtic England was replaced by Saxon England, who in turn were replaced by Norman rule (though their language remained as “English”).

I guess everyone’s performance is inconsistent at one time or another in terms of war.


17 posted on 01/28/2012 3:32:29 AM PST by kearnyirish2
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To: DainBramage

“The French had to fight , it was in their own damn country.”

They had made a decision to sit out a war between Nazism & Bolshevism; considering that France & Britain went to war officially to defend Poland, and in the end it was given over to Stalin anyway, apparently they made the right call (while war was declared against Germany for invading Poland from the west, nothing was done while Stalin invaded simultaneously from the east).

An often-glossed-over fact of the war (and one that was skewed in the movie the “Big Red One” to look like the actions of one overly-patriotic officer) was the fact that when American troops landed in French North Africa during Operation Torch in 1942, they were mowed down by French troops determined to protect their territory and neutrality. This wasn’t an accident, but a conscious decision of France’s part; they were rewarded by being spared the fate of Eastern Europe for the next 50 years.


18 posted on 01/28/2012 3:38:20 AM PST by kearnyirish2
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To: Neil E. Wright

Anybody know of any books highlighting the deeds of the tunnel rats from Viet Nam?


19 posted on 01/28/2012 3:40:11 AM PST by Safetgiver (I'd rather die under a free American sky than live under a Socialist regime.)
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To: Safetgiver

You might check e/bay as well.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_9?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=tunnel+rats+vietnam+war&sprefix=tunnel+ra%2Cstripbooks%2C318


20 posted on 01/28/2012 3:57:27 AM PST by anglian
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About two-thirds of military deaths in World War I were in battle, unlike the conflicts that took place in the 19th century when the majority of deaths were due to disease. Improvements in medicine as well as the increased lethality of military weaponry were both factors in this development. Nevertheless disease, including the Spanish flu, still caused about one third of total military deaths for all belligerents. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_casualties#cite_note-population1971-29


21 posted on 01/28/2012 3:58:22 AM PST by anglian
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Top 10 Bloodiest Battles of World War
World War I - There are many terrible battles, but this is a list of the worst.
http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-bloodiest-battles-of-world-war-i.php#ixzz1kkjlqfYg


22 posted on 01/28/2012 4:02:57 AM PST by anglian
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To: kearnyirish2
Also glossed over quite often is their surrendering Paris without a shot being fired, then claiming to be victor of the war.

The French, like the Italians aren't to be trusted in time of war.

23 posted on 01/28/2012 5:00:53 AM PST by DainBramage
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To: Safetgiver

http://www.amazon.com/Tunnels-Chi-Harrowing-Underground-Battlefields/dp/0891418695/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327755162&sr=8-1-fkmr0


24 posted on 01/28/2012 5:05:23 AM PST by mo
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To: naturalman1975

Where can you see this Film,I would love to see it


25 posted on 01/28/2012 5:14:47 AM PST by ballplayer
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To: Neil E. Wright

Wasn’t one of these underminings used in the largest conventional explosions ever touched off? They went under the German position and BANG...


26 posted on 01/28/2012 5:39:48 AM PST by TalBlack ( Evil doesn't have a day job.)
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To: Psalm 144

Of all the wars of any century, fought by any people on any continent, none haunt me or churn my guts like the Western Front, 1914 - 1918. May they rest in peace, and may God keep them all. All of them.

Ditto.


27 posted on 01/28/2012 5:40:25 AM PST by TalBlack ( Evil doesn't have a day job.)
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To: mo

Thans for the link. My brother was stationed in Cu Chi. He told about the tunnels found under their base. He also said some of the tunnels contained French weapons.


28 posted on 01/28/2012 5:43:33 AM PST by Straight8
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To: SatinDoll
My maternal Grandfather was an Infantryman in the 42d Infantry Division in the trenches of France. He was wounded by a German 75mm shell, but came home, raised a family, and lived into his late 70s. Only talked to me about what happened there.

His stories about the trenches were remarkable, although brief.

29 posted on 01/28/2012 5:45:07 AM PST by Redleg Duke ("Madison, Wisconsin is 30 square miles surrounded by reality.", L. S. Dryfus)
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To: Neil E. Wright

There is a great TV series World War I in Color.

One segment visits these tunnels and has color footage taken at the time. It goes into a fair amount of detail describing the tunneling effort on both sides.


30 posted on 01/28/2012 5:53:47 AM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 ..... Crucifixion is coming)
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To: kearnyirish2
I never understood the rivalry; Celtic England was replaced by Saxon England, who in turn were replaced by Norman rule (though their language remained as “English”).

Actually it's much more complicated than that. When William of Normandy invaded and took control of England, many things happened but there were two broad consequences of significance to English history:

1. The language of the English court changed from English to French, would stay French for the next 300 years give or take, and pushed English into the form used by Geoffrey Chaucer (Middle English), and

2. The English crown would have either land or claims to land on the east side of the channel, the subject of many wars, until the mid-15th century. These claims would not be ultimately resolved until after the Hundred Years' War, nearly four centuries after William's victory at Hastings.

The reason why the French and the English get along so poorly is because their histories are so thoroughly intertwined.

31 posted on 01/28/2012 6:17:31 AM PST by Oberon (Big Brutha Be Watchin'.)
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To: Straight8

I had a friend there as well who gave me a copy of this book many years ago.


32 posted on 01/28/2012 6:21:15 AM PST by mo
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To: Safetgiver
Look for The Tunnels of Cu Chi.
33 posted on 01/28/2012 6:21:28 AM PST by Trailerpark Badass
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To: DainBramage

“The French, like the Italians aren’t to be trusted in time of war.”

That’s how the French felt after getting duped into fighting the Indochina War by the US; they left NATO, developed the bomb, and haven’t been “rescued” ever since.

The French preferred Hitler to Stalin when they were forced to choose; they knew from the Civil War in Spain what Stalin had in store for Europe, and in the end, they (and Spain) were spared the fate of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Albania, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, East Germany and Yugoslavia (some of them the countries born of WWI when the world was made safe for democracy)..


34 posted on 01/28/2012 6:32:37 AM PST by kearnyirish2
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To: Oberon

That makes sense.

It is a fascinating history; shortly before losing by a hari at Hastings (the Normans had almost given up), Harold had marched his army for days after defeating a Viking army at Stamford Bridge. The Vikings were a presence as well; Dublin was a Viking settlement. Their pure language is still spoken in the country with the oldest parliament, Iceland; I believe the “Althing” (spelling) is over 1000 years old.


35 posted on 01/28/2012 6:40:53 AM PST by kearnyirish2
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To: Safetgiver
...tunnel rats from Viet Nam?

I work with a man that, being the size of a jockey, was tapped to drop into a tunnel, flashlight in one hand , .45 in the other. Some stories he has.

36 posted on 01/28/2012 6:52:56 AM PST by Vinnie
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To: bert

“One segment visits these tunnels and has color footage taken at the time.”

Taken at which time? It’s highly unlikely that color film existed in WW1.


37 posted on 01/28/2012 6:57:54 AM PST by bitterohiogunclinger (Proudly casting a heavy carbon footprint as I clean my guns ---)
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To: Safetgiver

“Anybody know of any books highlighting the deeds of the tunnel rats from Viet Nam?”

Frederick Forsyth’s “Avenger” novel has some interesting fictional highlights.


38 posted on 01/28/2012 6:58:02 AM PST by BwanaNdege (Man has often lost his way, but modern man has lost his address - Gilbert K. Chesterton)
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To: TalBlack

Hawthorn mine explosion, Battle of the Somme.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPGrrnpzB_Y


39 posted on 01/28/2012 7:11:45 AM PST by biggerten (Love you, Mom.)
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To: bitterohiogunclinger
------It’s highly unlikely that color film existed in WW1.-----

It actually did and that is what makes the series so good. The color adds a totally different dimension to the WW I films. They are scarce and the footage is in very short segments. It is not "colorized".

Like the World War II in color series that has voice over the film segments the WWI narrator describes what is seen and how those segments fit in to the overall narrative.

Here 's some info

40 posted on 01/28/2012 7:12:07 AM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 ..... Crucifixion is coming)
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To: kearnyirish2

It seems all the “brave genes” in the French gene pool were lost by 1920...


41 posted on 01/28/2012 7:16:37 AM PST by Mr Rogers ("they found themselves made strangers in their own country")
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To: Mr Rogers

Read “Hell In A Small Place” about Dien Bien Phu; makes Khe San look like a walk in the park.


42 posted on 01/28/2012 7:23:36 AM PST by kearnyirish2
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To: kearnyirish2

I would also point out that the US lost about a million in WWI if you count the losses due to influenza.

Most Civil War casualties were due to dysentery.


43 posted on 01/28/2012 8:51:27 AM PST by donmeaker (e is trancendental)
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To: kearnyirish2

Oddly, the French Foreign Legion units at Dien Bien Phu had an unusually large ratio of native French.

Many collaborators after WWII were given the option to stand trial, or to join the FFL to earn clemency.


44 posted on 01/28/2012 8:53:57 AM PST by donmeaker (e is trancendental)
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To: kearnyirish2; DainBramage
The French, like the Italians aren’t to be trusted in time of war.

Verdun.

45 posted on 01/28/2012 9:09:30 AM PST by Winniesboy
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To: Neil E. Wright
There was a very different kind of mining and countermining on a much less well-known First World War front, the Austro/Italian front in the Dolomites. Here all the advantage was in the command of height, and a number of positions were destroyed by blowing off mountain-tops. Much of the impedimenta of war can still be seen there, more or less intact, including mining tunnels which have been incoporated into via ferrata aided climbing routes.
46 posted on 01/28/2012 9:26:57 AM PST by Winniesboy
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To: Winniesboy

“Verdun”

Good point.


47 posted on 01/28/2012 9:55:02 AM PST by kearnyirish2
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To: donmeaker

The French used a lot of colonial troops as well (they weren’t FL though); they had Moroccans, Algerians, Laotians, etc. in the lot.


48 posted on 01/28/2012 9:57:47 AM PST by kearnyirish2
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To: kearnyirish2

“They had made a decision to sit out a war between Nazism & Bolshevism...”

So by surrendering to the NAZIs, the French somehow caused the Soviets to not conquer France at the end of WWII like they conquered Eastern Europe because collaborationist Vichy French soldiers fired on Americans in Operation Torch?

You seem intelligent, but I really don’t get what you’re trying to say.

The French had to fight, it was their own damn country.

You asked earlier if the Confedracy would have fought another Civil War in 1881. Are you kidding? Yeah they would have fought - bravely; because it was their own damn country. An honorable Texas man, or Virginia man, or proud gentleman from Tennessee, et. all. would have stood up and defended their homes as best as they were able.


49 posted on 01/28/2012 12:03:02 PM PST by Owl558 ("Those who remember George Satayana are doomed to repeat him")
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To: ballplayer
It has been released on DVD in the US and in US format and is available at Amazon.
50 posted on 01/28/2012 1:35:51 PM PST by naturalman1975 ("America was under attack. Australia was immediately there to help." - John Winston Howard)
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