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Ultimo and Factory Farm Mines

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

At the end of February 1916, 171 Tunnelling Company began sinking a shaft M.2 for the mine at Trench 121. They got through the surface loam and down 30 feet before they reached the blue clay. By the end of March the shaft was now at 78 feet, and they were preparing to commence the drive.

Linesman map showing the German trench known as Ultimo and Factory Farm.

The Ultimo mine. The tunnel was driven below the road for a distance of 450 feet and there it turned left towards its target, the network of trenches on the north side of the road and reached the objective without any incident. By the 14 May 1916, they had charge of 20,000lbs of ammonal in place and tamped ready for firing.

War Diary 171 Tunnelling Company recording work on shafts.

The Factory Farm mine. Approximately 350 feet from the shaft, a branch tunnel to the right was created and directed towards Factory Farm, the German front line ran through the ruins of the farm. At 600 feet from the main gallery the face of the tunnel was beneath the objective and on the 11 June 1916, a charge of 40,000lbs of ammonal was tamped and ready for firing. This was the most southerly mine blown on 7 June but not the most southerly laid.

Falkirk District man with the Canadian tunnellers

21876 Private William Melville, ‘Y’ Company, 12th Platoon, 17th Battalion (Rosebery) Royal Scots, 106th Infantry Brigade, 35th Division. A Bo’ness man who, prior to enlisting, was employed as a miner by the Bridgeness Coal Company Ltd. He was wounded, gun shot wound slight graze to the face and neck, on 17 May 1916 however, he rejoined his unit on 21 May. On the 26 January 1917, he was transferred to 176 Tunnelling Company, 3rd Canadian Division, and was with them until June 1917. William did not witness the Factory Farm mine detonation as he was on leave from the 6 to 16 June. After rejoining his battalion in September 1917 he took part in Third Ypres. He was wounded again on 6 June 1918, suffering from the effects of being gassed, and rejoined the Battalion on 12 August. He then went on leave from 18 August to 1 September. He was killed in action on the outskirts of Werviq on 30 September 1918. He is buried in Zantvoorde British Cemetery I.E.12.

Linesman map showing the craters.

On the 6 June last minute orders were issued to extend the wiring up the 70-foot shaft to the trench above. This task was completed just twenty minutes before detonation. These mines were the last to be blown on 7 June.

Ultimo Crater today. Authors image.

Factory Farm crater today. Authors image.

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