WWI discoveries

3590 WWI practice trenches at Larkhill. Image captured by Rob Rawcliffe of FIDES Flare Media Ltd.
 
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Excavations at Larkhill revealed a large array of WWI practise trenches. This complex of trenches and tunnels is where British and Commonwealth soldiers were trained in advance of their mobilisation to the theatre of war and was in use from 1915 to 1918. The area was later used to train forces in advance of WWII and even into the 1970s.
 
In the process of excavation, archaeologists have identified graffiti left by some of the soldiers and have identified records of the presence of others through archived documents. Soldiers from all over Britain wrote on the chalk as well as a significant number of Australians. They left signatures and details which have allowed us to identify some of the soldiers, research some of their stories, and on some occasions – contact their descendants.
 
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Most exciting was the discovery of a chalk plaque inscribed with the names of Australian Bombers − soldiers specially trained to use hand grenades to attack and clear German trenches. One of the names is of Private Lawrence Carthage Weathers, who won the Victoria Cross in September 1918 for attacking a German machine gun post with grenades, capturing guns and taking 180 prisoners.
 
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Under the guidance of our client (Martin Brown of WYG) we have recovered many finds from the trenches which provide a fascinating insight into life on the base. The diet of the soldiers included tinned sardines and corned beef, jam, marmalade and golden syrup, condensed milk, Bovril and meat paste, with condiments such as HP Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce to make things more palatable.
 
Many examples of the standard-issue eating and drinking equipment have been found – plates, bowls and cups in enameled tin or plain white pottery, mess tins and drinking canteens, plus the occasional surprise item such as a nest of jelly moulds.
 
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