Tag Archives: fundraising

Précis of recent work at La Boisselle

In mid-November 2013, archaeology by the La Boisselle Study Group (LBSG) restarted on First World War trenches at La Boisselle, Somme. The work concentrated upon features that once lay within the courtyard of a large farm, a position known by the French forces as the ‘Ilôt’, and by the Germans as the ‘Granathof’.

In July 2013, during the excavation of a pre-Christmas 1914 German trench located within the last surviving corner of the farm courtyard (the rest is now a mine crater-field), and an associated early 1915 communication trench dug by French troops, LBSG archaeologists uncovered the remains of a British soldier. Investigations revealed the presence of further human remains.

Following discussions with the British Ministry of Defence, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles (DRAC) and the Office Nationale des Anciens Combattants et Victimes (ONAC), and after an intensive fund-raising campaign, archaeological investigation recommenced at La Boisselle on 15 November 2013. The international LBSG team of volunteers comprised historians, archaeologists, genealogists, geophysicists, anthropologists, surveyors and conservators.

A specially-designed shelter was constructed over the proposed work area. It comprised artefact processing, cleaning, and conservation areas with photographic station, and an anthropology section. During the subsequent highly complex work amongst the debris of the farm stables, a second British soldier was found; nearby, the remains of seven French and German soldiers were also discovered.

When the project terminated on 8 December, the French and German remains had been deposited with the ONAC in Bray-sur-Somme. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, acting on behalf of the Ministry of Defence in the UK, is holding both sets of British remains at its morgue in Beaurains, and the MoD are continuing their work to identify the casualties.

Pending decisions about the future of the Glory Hole site to be taken later this month by the newly-formed Association des Amis de l’Ilot de La Boisselle, the site has been backfilled to protect the archaeology.

La Boisselle Study Group, 8 January 2014

Fundraising Dinner at the Officer’s Mess, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst – 8 November 2012

On Thursday 8 November ninety-one guests gathered for a fundraising black tie dinner at the Officer’s Mess, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. During pre-dinner drinks in an upstairs ante-room artefacts from this year’s archaeology were on display along with a selection of maps, plans and books. There was also a ‘pop-up’ display on show, designed by Paul Hewitt and generously donated and printed by George Prové at Newvale Print.

The ante-room with ‘pop-up’ and archaeological artefacts on display

After a brief introductory talk by Peter Barton and Jeremy Banning we went downstairs to be treated to a delicious three-course dinner. Full regimental mess protocol was observed with a Loyal Toast to Her Majesty The Queen, a toast to fallen comrades and a minute’s silence.

Archaeological artefacts on display in the ante-room

There followed an hour’s illustrated presentation by Peter Barton and Jeremy Banning on the history of the Glory Hole at La Boisselle, tunnel warfare on site and the ongoing archaeological work; it was followed by many questions. The evening ended with an auction which was very generously supported. We would like to thank all of those who attended and made the evening such a memorable success.

Dinner guests seated in the Officer’s Mess

Our sincere thanks to the Commandant of Sandhurst, Major-General Timothy Evans, Giles Orpen-Smellie (The Sandhurst Foundation) and Paul McQuillan of Compass Group. We would like to express our gratitude to Richard Anderson (auctioneer extraordinaire), Rohit Tanna, Roy Murphy, Andrew Norton, Bill Gornall-King and Nick Mercer for their assistance in organising the evening and guests plus a million other kindnesses.

Peter Barton & Jeremy Banning’s after dinner presentation