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Trench 127

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

The two mines at this location were on either side of the road near Anton's Farm, they no longer exist having been filled in and one built over.

Linesman map showing Anton's Farm and the German trench positions..

They were north of Ploegsteert Wood and south of Messines. Anton’s Farm is where Lieutenant Ronald Poulton Palmer, 1/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment, of the Huntley & Palmer Biscuit Company family and England Rugby Captain, was killed by a sniper on 5 May 1915. He is buried in Hyde Park Corner (Royal Berks) Cemetery.

At the end of December 1915, 171 Tunnelling Company started a deep offensive mine shaft here. Having passed through the greyish loam and the quicksand (known as limon) they reached the blue clay at 40 feet down and they completed the shaft at 75 feet on 1 February 1916 and by the end of February they had driven 451 feet out. However, at 700 feet and without any warning quicksand burst into the gallery and in less than five minutes some 35 feet of the gallery was filled. Lieutenant Frayling, who was the duty officer, ordered a dam of sandbags to be built about 100 feet back from the face. This was then replaced by a permanent dam of concrete and supported by steel and behind this a 30-foot wall of sandbags was built and then another concrete dam put in place. Major David, the geological expert from GHQ, was consulted and his opinion was that the drive had tapped into an old glacial bed of the River Douve filled with surface sand.

War Diary 171 Tunnelling Company 9 January 1916 and the start of the shaft at Trench 127.

The tunnellers created a new drive and inclined this down so as to go under the problem area and by the end of March they had 90 feet of cover and the drive was 761 feet out from the shaft. From here a branch gallery turned left and ran 250 feet and this was chambered and charged with 36,000 lbs of ammonal on the 29 April 1916. They then continued the main drive to a length of 1,357 feet where they created a chamber and charged this with 50,000 lbs of ammonal in mid-May 1916.

Linesman map showing the location of the craters.

Remains of Ash Crater today. Authors image

Anton's Farm today. The mines were to the right of the picture. Authors image.

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