Network of World War One 'training tunnels' discovered

A "unique" network of tunnels which were used to train soldiers for World War One has been found in Wiltshire, along with graffiti soldiers scrawled there.

Archaeologists working with the Ministry of Defence, which is creating hundreds of military homes at the site in Larkhill, Salisbury Plain, made the discovery.

The site was used to mimic conditions that soldiers would face in the trenches of France and Belgium during the war.

Soldiers left their names scrawled all over the walls of the tunnels. Credit: SWNS

More than 100 pieces of graffiti have also been uncovered in the chalk walls of the trenches.

Soldiers who left their names include decorated war heroes and one man who was recorded as a deserter.

The names include men from Wiltshire as well as West Yorkshire coal miners, and two brothers wrote "Semper Fidelis" (Ever Faithful) underneath their names.

An exterior view of one of the tunnels. Credit: SWNS
Australian soldiers in the training tunnels. Credit: SWNS

Archaeologist Si Cleggett, who said the discovery was "unique", said: "It has been a humbling experience to stand and read the names of young soldiers in the very spaces they occupied before leaving for war.

"Having stood in their footprints a century after their time at Larkhill, we really will remember them."

Items left over from training, such as ammunition, food tins and grenades, were also found at the site.

The WW1 era training tunnels which have been newly re-discovered on Salisbury plain. Credit: SWNS

Steve White, of building contractors GABLE, said the Larkhill tunnels project "represented a unique opportunity to be a part of a story of unprecedented archaeological significance".