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.
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.
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.
Yorkshire Trench & Dugout
In spring 2023, the entrances to the dugout were renovated. As a result of a dropped groundwater table, the wooden structures had badly deteriorated and partially collapsed.
However, further repair works are necessary. For the trench itself is also in a sad state. Pending a thorough restoration, the most vulnerable parts have been filled with sand.
The In Flanders Fields Museum, the Friends of the Museum (VIFF) and Yorkshiretrenchjustgiving (GB) are raising funds for the trench's further restoration.
Want to contribute to the preservation of this landscape site?