View Full Version : Dig uncovers lost army tribute buried in Staffordshire

09-12-2013, 11:53 AM
Dig uncovers lost army tribute buried in Staffordshire

Archaeologists working to uncover a scale model of the WW1 Battle of Messines created by German POWs


Archaeologists working to uncover the model of Messines Ridge

An historic military dig at a Staffordshire beauty spot which was sparked by an incredible find by one man and his dog – nicknamed Trench Finder – has begun.

Archaeologists have begun work on uncovering a terrain model of the Battle of Messines which was discovered on Cannock Chase (http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/all-about/staffordshire) by Richard Pursehouse and his dog Parker back in 2007.

The model is believed to be the only example of its kind left in the UK.

Mr Pursehouse, from Cannock, stumbled on the site of the model, on land near Brocton, when his dog started digging at a root in the ground.


Part of the model of the Battle of Messines, being uncovered in Brocton, near Stafford

When he looked closer he spotted concrete under the surface and unique jaw-dropping detail.

He then contacted officials at Staffordshire County Council who began to look into the find.

He said: “It was Parker who discovered it in all honesty and he has now got the nickname Trench Finder. He began digging at a tree root in the ground and when I took a closer look I saw there was concrete under the surface. I could see straight away that it was something quite special and unique and contacted the county council.”

Following the find Mr Pursehouse set up the Chase Project as he delved deeper into the history of the unique battlefield model which has painstaking details of trench positions, roads, buildings, railway lines and even a windmill.

The model was built by German prisoners of war, supervised by the New Zealanders and rendered in concrete.

The model is planned out in painstaking detail by troops who returned from the Battle of Messines on the Western Front, fought in June 1917.

Mr Pursehouse added: “I do have a passion for local history and wanted to find out more about the history behind the battle model. I contacted The New Zealand Army Museum.”


Archaeologists working to uncover the model of the Battle of Messines, being uncovered in Brocton, near Stafford

Experts said the terrain model was built not only as a training aid for other soldiers at Brocton Camp but in recognition at the horrific toll of slaughter the battle – fought around the landmark Messines ridge – took on soldiers.

The ridge formed an anchor in the German front lines but the week-long offensive of infantry attack, aerial bombardment and heavy shelling resulted in an Allied victory.

The human cost of the battle ran to 50,000 men killed, wounded or missing across both sides. The battle was fought in the build-up to the much larger Passchendaele offensive.

Staffordshire County Council will make a record of the model for future generations as they carry out the dig and a replica of the model is in the pipeline to be produced. It is set to be based at the Marquis Drive Visitor Centre and could become a learning facility for local schoolchildren.

Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins said: “We see ourselves as custodians of the land and of the memories it holds, and this is a wonderful opportunity to bring the site back to life.”

The archaeology work is set to take around two weeks.