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Beneath the Killing Fields (Hardback)

Exploring the Subterranean Landscapes of the Western Front

WWI Archaeology

By Matthew Leonard
Imprint: Pen & Sword Archaeology
Series: Modern Conflict Archaeology
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781783463060
Published: 3rd November 2016

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£19.99


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As featured by MailOnline - tunnel network reveals how First World War sappers battled beneath the Western Front as their comrades fought in the trenches above 

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Beneath the Killing Fields of the Western Front still lies a hidden landscape of industrialised conflict virtually untouched since 1918. This subterranean world is an ambiguous environment filled with material culture that that objectifies the scope and depth of human interaction with the diverse conflict landscapes of modern war.

Covering the military reasoning for taking the war underground, as well as exploring the way that human beings interacted with these extraordinary alien environments, this book provides a more all-encompassing overview of the Western Front. The underground war was intrinsic to trench warfare and involved far more than simply trying to destroy the enemy’s trenches from below. It also served as a home to thousands of men, protecting them from the metallic landscapes of the surface.

With the aid of cutting edge fieldwork conducted by the author in these subterranean locales, this book combines military history, archaeology and anthropology together with primary data and unique imagery of British, French, German and American underground defences in order to explore the realities of subterranean warfare on the Western Front, and the effects on the human body and mind that living and fighting underground inevitably entailed.

Leonard, with lots of useful photographs, thoughtfully introduces us to this arena of war.

Military History Monthly, August 2017

A well-written, deeply researched account of a unique type of warfare which also found a place in WW2 in the Pacific Islands like Okinawa, held to the very last man by the Japanese.

It is highly recommended especially for it's insight into the psychology of the men who dug, fought , lived or died in the blackness below the killing fields of Flanders.

Fortress Study Group No. 109

This book is a thoroughly absorbing study of underground warfare during the First World War and how it evolved.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the part played in the First World War of this underground world.

The Battlefield Trust

As featured in

The Daily Mail 22/2/17

As featured in

Journal for the Pillbox Study Group No. 67

About Matthew Leonard

Matthew Leonard’s research is concerned with the engagement of man and the underground worlds of the Western Front during the First World War. As a conflict archaeologist, Matthew’s research adopts a modern interdisciplinary approach, incorporating elements of several disciplines to examine how these subterranean landscapes were created and experienced, and how existentialism, sensorial interaction and the human body coped with the extreme pressures of war life underground. He is a member of the Durand Group and carries out regular fieldwork in France beneath the battlefields of the First World War. More information concerning his research can be found at www.modernconflictarchaeology.com

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