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British: Tunnel, Hill 62 Museum, Sanctuary Wood

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

This is a popular museum that is on many battlefield tourists to do lists. The trenches we see today, are the remainder of the trench complex that comprised Border Lane, Fort Street and Hill Street. They have been cleaned up and maintained from time to time however, they are in their original location.

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Linesman map showing location of Sanctuary Wood trenches

A tunnel, that is constructed of reinforced concrete panels for the wall and roof support also form the floor and provide a rigid support and have nibs cast into them for joining together. The tunnel connects Fort Street and Hill Street trenches. As the ground here is sandy clay because the trenches are on higher ground, and not the solid clay in much of the salient, the panels line the four sides and continue throughout the tunnel, as opposed to regular intervals that you may find in mine or tunnel timbers in solid clay conditions.

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With a low roof and a narrow width, the tunnel was constructed, not for mining activities or for accommodation, but for safe communication between the trenches. The concrete panels would have had to have been manufactured locally, as hundreds would have been required and it is possible that a manufacturing source was built near Ypres for this purpose. It is also unclear as to who constructed the tunnel as many units were active in this area. The construction looks as though it was not tunnelled but cut and then the panels dropped into place and covered over.

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