Memorial Details

Artist's impression of the memorial. Drawn in 2005 by Andy Gammon

Artist's impression of the memorial. Drawn in 2005 by Andy Gammon

To the right is the original artist’s impression of the memorial. Like the Tunnellers themselves, the structure was planned to be understated. It commemorates the endeavours of the men of all nations who served underground.

The dimensions were designed to match the standard interior proportions of mine galleries constructed by Tunnelling Companies in the Flanders clays; they precisely match those in which William Hackett and Thomas Collins were working in June 1916 – 120 centimetres (4 feet) high, 80 centimetres (2’ 6”) wide. The construction material is ultra-durable Lakeland slate – Brathay blue-black for the outer ‘frame’ representing the timber ‘sett’, and Kirkstone sea green for the engraved interior. Visitors can thus envisage the cramped and claustrophobic nature of the Tunnellers’ working life and the scale of the environment in which Hackett and Collins laboured, lost their lives, and lie still. The circular base engraved with the trench map reference has the same dimensions as the Shaftesbury Shaft which served the gallery. The Memorial is precisely orientated so that the view through the central axis of the yellow glass T – representing the Tunnellers’ shoulder title – will take the visitor’s gaze exactly to the site of the original shaft head close to the place in the landscape beneath which the two men still lie. An illustrated explanatory panel describing the work of the Tunnelling Companies is located adjacent to the memorial.

Plans for the Memorial design manufactured and engraved by Kirkstone, Skelwith Bridge, Near Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9NN.

With William Hackett’s courage exemplifying the Tunnellers’ work, the new memorial stands in celebration not only of his self sacrifice, but the endeavours of all his military mining comrades from around the world; men from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa whose critical but clandestine role in the Great War has been long overlooked. Although heroes of obscurity, with their names featuring only marginally on the great lists of dead, wounded and missing, their contribution to the surface war was integral and vital. Few have spoken or written of their ways in the last nine decades, no monuments had been erected to their memory, and yet fewer poets have immortalised their hidden and selfless endeavours in the most secret, personal and savage battlefield of the war – the battlefield beneath No Man’s Land.

15 Responses to Memorial Details

  1. donhutton@talktalk.net

    my wife and sister in law (nee smith) would like to know if you have any information regarding sapper james smith
    who served in 254 tunnelling corp and who received a medal 132670 for bravery in1916
    many thanks
    d hutton

  2. I am looking for ‘memorials’ that recognize the contribution of the Canadian Engineer Tunnelling Companies in WW I.

    Could you please advise me of the wording on this important memorial.

    Thank-you

    Lieutenant Colonel Ken Holmes (Retd)
    Canadian Military Engineers
    Ottawa, Canada

  3. In our local paper on 20th September 2012 was a photo of a list of names of Specially enlisted tunnellers both of my family names and initials are in this list and I would like to know where I can find more information on these names W.C. Barker and F. Welsby
    Thank you

    • We can find no record of an F Welsby having served in the RE.
      As for WC Barker, if you could provide a christian name or regimental number then we may be able to help more. To give you an idea, we have just stared for ‘Barker’ and ‘Royal Engineers;’ and there are 467 on the Medal Rolls! Around 50 of these are ‘W Barkers’ or variations on that theme. As you can see, the more information you can provide the easier it makes to narrow down your search.

  4. Robert Nelson

    Re Septimus Chisholm. Royal Engineers No 102666.

    He enlisted as a tunneler at the age of 41. In September 1915 he was moving along a trench from one mine to another when a mine exploded and buried him. He was injured and discharged as being medically unfit.

    As a testament to the hard work and hardship involved in this work I have a copy of a photo showing him as a very well-built and strong man but his discharge papers describe him as ‘very weak’. His injury must have been particularly traumatic as he had been named after his Uncle, Septimus Days who had been killed in a roof fall in a mine in 1873 at South Brancpeth Colliery, Durham. I hope this is of interest to you. If you have any more information about him I would be very grateful

  5. I am trying to research further details for Sapper Joseph William Newton, Royal Engineers, Reg. no. 102578 . Understand he joined one of the Tunnelling Company s in June 1915, aged 42. He was a coal miner from Burnhope in County Durham, and survived the war living until 1950. would like to know which Company and if any diary information survives. Thank you for any assistance.

    Brian Taylor

    • Dear Brian,
      We have sent you an email with details about Sapper Newton’s wartime service and a link to his service records. He served in 174 Tunnelling Company. We will happily send you 174 TC’s war diary. Please let us know if you are keen to receive this.
      Best wishes,
      Tunnellers Memorial Admin Team

  6. I have just discovered that my great uncle Richard Law was Sapper 158340 with 257th Tunnelling Company. He died on 09/04/1917 and is buried at Rue-du-Bacquerot No 1 Military Cemetery, Laventie. On the 1911 Census at age 30 he is living near Swansea and working as a Coal Hewer Underground which is how he came to be a Tunneller I suppose. Do you have information about his life with the 257th, on how he died and how he came to be buried where he is, please?

    • I have photographs of the war diary for 257 Tunnelling Company from the National Archives. I am happy to burn a copy on disc and send it to you.
      Via email I have passed on details of a friend of mine, Rik Bennett, who has a particular interest in 257TC as his grandfather served with them. He knows a good deal of information about the event in which your great uncle was killed and is happy to liaise with you on this.
      Best wishes,
      Jeremy Banning (Tunnellers Memorial Admin)

  7. I am interested in any information on 172 nd tunnelling company and if anyone has the war diaries for the company, many thanks.

    • I have added 172TC’s war diary to Dropbox and sent you the link in order that you can download it in its entirety.
      Best wishes,
      Jeremy Banning (Tunnellers Memorial Admin)

  8. My great grandfather Thomas Cameron, Sapper, Royal Engineers no 47851, 62nd Field Coy, Royal Engineers
    Died on 25th Sept 1915.
    Could you please let me know if there are any war diaries or information regarding Thomas and his death as I am compiling a
    booklet about my Cameron family for all the many great and great-great grandchildren of Thomas, so we may never forget his sacrifice
    Thank you

  9. My great grandfather, Sgt John Roy, service number 121813, served from 1915 with the 250th Tunneling Company. He was awarded the DCM for an action on 25/6/18 and I have the citation from the Gazette. Do you have the war diaries for the 250th as I would love to know I there is any mention of this. He was also awarded the MM but, as yet, I don’t have the date of this. Many thanks for any help you can provide.

    • Dear Stephen,
      Apologies for the ridiculous delay in my response but the TM site is unpaid work and so has to fit in around everything else.
      I have uploaded 250TC war diary to Dropbox and sent you a link so that you can download the records to your PC. I hope the file will be of invaluable help in your research. The National Archives have scanned these files and it will soon be possible to buy the diary in PDF format via this link: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7350564
      Best wishes,
      Jeremy Banning (Tunnellers Memorial Admin)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *