Abandoned underground WW1 tunnels discovered in Wiltshire

Archaeologists 'humbled' by discovery of secret soldier training grounds

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Credits: SWNS.com

A network of abandoned tunnels used to train World War One soldiers has been found by archaeologists- along with decades-old graffiti etched onto the walls.

The "unique" discovery was made by archaeologists working with the Ministry of Defence on the building of hundreds of new military homes in Wiltshire.

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The site was used to reflect conditions soldiers would face in trenches in France and Belgium during the war.

More than 100 pieces of graffiti have been uncovered in the chalk walls of the trenches and tunnels.

Credits: SWNS.com

The tunnels were used to reflect conditions on the battle field

Credits: SWNS.com

Archaeologists described the find as "unique"

Credits: SWNS.com

Writing on the walls is still visible

Soldiers training on the site who left their names include decorated heroes and one recorded deserter.

The names feature Wiltshire men as well as West Yorkshire coal miners, and two brothers wrote "Semper Fidelis" (Ever Faithful) beneath their signatures.

Archaeologist Si Cleggett, who described the Larkhill excavation as "unique", said: "It has been a humbling experience to stand and read the names of young soldiers in the very spaces they occupied before leaving for war.

Credits: SWNS.com

"Having stood in their footprints a century after their time at Larkhill, we really will remember them."

Training relics such as grenades, ammunition and food tins were also found.
The Australian 3rd Division infantry trained on Salisbury Plain in 1916 and the dig uncovered a chalk plaque inscribed with the names of Australian bombers - soldiers specially trained to use hand grenades.

Credits: SWNS.com

More than 100 pieces of graffiti have been uncovered in the chalk walls

Credits: SWNS.com

One name is Private Lawrence Carthage Weathers, who won the Victoria Cross in September 1918 for attacking a machine gun post with grenades, capturing it and taking 180 prisoners.

Steve White, of building contractors GABLE, said the Larkhill tunnels project "represented a unique opportunity to be a part of a story of unprecedented archaeological significance".

Credits: SWNS.com

Training relics such as grenades, ammunition and food tins were also found

About 4,300 soldiers and their families are to move to Wiltshire from Germany and UK bases by 2019 as part of the Army Basing Plan.

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Messages in Latin, including "semper fidelis" (ever faithful), were also discovered.
Some of the men were local to the West Country, and other names were of coal miners who had travelled from West Yorkshire.

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