As a part of the preparations for the building of service family accommodation for the Army Basing Programme on Salisbury Plain, Wessex Archaeology has been carrying out archaeological investigations for over a year at Larkhill. During this work a large array of WWI practice trenches came to light. Under the guidance of our client (Martin Brown of WYG) we have recently completed a characterisation of a sample of those trenches. Martin is one of the UK’s leading WWI specialists and his knowledge of the period has been invaluable. The practice trenches were used to train soldiers (including named divisions from Australia) in advance of their mobilisation to the theatre of war. For the field archaeology team this has been a profound and humbling experience.
Images captured by Rob Rawcliffe of FIDES Flare Media Ltd.
As the first Centenary of the beginning of the Somme Offensive fell shortly after our excavations had been completed, we were extremely keen to mark the date in a meaningful way. After due consultation with Lt Col Grace of the Royal School of Artillery, Wessex Archaeology and WYG were honoured to take part in an extremely moving commemorative event centred on surviving WWI practice trenches. It was an extremely profound event that remembered the sacrifices of WWI Commonwealth soldiers and families and, the continuing service of the Larkhill Garrison.
For my part, standing next to WWI trenches on the day and at the very moment that men went over the top on the first day of the Somme will remain with me forever.
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