The Somme: Secret Tunnel Wars

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The Somme: Secret Tunnel Wars


The rolling farmland of northern France may have slowly reclaimed the old trench lines, but beneath the earth there still lies a warren of tunnels that bear testament to the miners of the First World War, tasked with blowing up the enemy trenches from below.

At La Boisselle, site of some of the Somme’s fiercest fighting, this subterranean battlefield is remarkably intact: you can even see the smoke stains from candles that once lit the “undermining” exertions on chalky walls. Peter Barton explores the archaeological remains with respect: after all, it’s not just explosives concealed down here, but the bodies of soldiers trapped underground.


Documentary following historian Peter Barton and a team of archaeologists as they navigate a network of tunnels constructed beneath the Somme battlefield during the First World War. The programme unearths the history embedded in the underground labyrinth - facilitated by both the Allied and Central Powers to plant mines beyond enemy lines - and the personal stories of the predominantly British troops who helped dig it during the first two years of the conflict.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Peter Barton
Director Mike Fox
Executive Producer Michael Poole
Producer Peter Barton
Producer Sebastian Barfield