Yorkshire Trench & Dugout

a unique historical site dating back to the First World War

In 1992, a farmer discovered the entrance to a British underground dugout on land near the Bargiestraat in Boezinge. The entrance to it was excavated by the Diggers, a group of amateur archaeologists led by Patrick Van Wanzeele. The dugout turned out to be a real time capsule; the finds were spectacular.

archaeological survey

Further investigation revealed the alignment of a shallow trench dating from 1915, and a well-preserved trench from 1917. The oldest trench was created after the fighting that followed the first gas attack of 22 April 1915. That line was initially French but became British from 5 June 1915. In spring 1917, a new trench was dug from here and called Yorkshire Trench. The dugout served as headquarters for the 13th and 16th Battalions Royal Welsh Fusiliers during the Third Battle of Ypres, but was abandoned after the first phase of this major British offensive.

museum collection

From 1998, the industrial estate along the Ypres-Boezinge canal expanded. The Diggers undertook to stay ahead of the construction machinery on Saturdays. Countless valuable artefacts but also tons of ammunition came to the surface. The In Flanders Fields Museum was able to include the most exceptional pieces in its collection. The large industrial site also gave away a lot of human remains. In total, more than 200 bodies were recovered. They were given a final resting place in one of the British, French or German cemeteries in the region.

presentation and education

The City of Ypres managed to acquire a small site around Yorkshire & Trench Dugout. In August 2002, the Diggers restored about 70m of the trench and dugout entrances. For the most part, the original A-frames were used, but the gangways and thousands of sandbags were renewed. The footprint of the dugout and the shallow trench from 1915 were plotted on the site with walkways and gravel paths. Information boards give visitors an insight into the construction of the site and its historical events.

CROWDFUNDING

Yorkshire Trench & Dugout

The site is currently in a deplorable state. Access is very limited due to the crumbling of the sandbag wall in the trench and the collapse of the northern entrance to the dugout. These problems are due to a dropped groundwater table which is causing the wooden structure of the dugout entrances to suffer.

If no action is undertaken, this unique green enclave, along with its stories and rich history, risks disappearing forever within the grey industrial zone.

Together, we can save Yorkshire Trench & Dugout !

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