Explore These World War I Trenches and Tunnels in France and Belgium
by Jennifer Nalewicki Smithsonian.com
For troops serving on the front lines during World War I, trench warfare was common practice. The use of machine guns and rapid-fire field artillery pieces forced soldiers on both sides, the Allies and the Central Powers, to bore intricate trench systems into the ground. These trenches served as protection against enemy fire and allowed soldiers to fire back without being fully exposed. Tunnels, on the other hand, were used to surreptitiously place explosives beneath unsuspecting enemy soldiers and move supplies between different parts of a battleground. In one known instance, a tunnel was used as an underground hospital.
While overgrowth and erosion have largely overtaken many battlegrounds in the 100 years since the Treaty of Versailles was signed, officially ending the war between Germany and the Allies, archaeologists, historians and even civilians have uncovered the remnants of these protective hideaways throughout Europe. These sites are important glimpses, even today, into battles that took place during the Great War.