WWI Tunnels of Death: The Big Dig (2012): S01E01 – The Killing Fields


Messines is among World War One’s most iconic and dramatic battlefields and the setting for what is still the world’s deadliest non-nuclear explosion, in which 600 tons of explosives took the lives of 10,000 men. Archaeologists have opened up a vast 1.5-mile trench straight through the battlefield on a scale of military excavation that comes up only once in a decade. Unearthing the fighting trenches, unexploded bombs and grenades and even the bodies of the men and horses who fought and died there, this extraordinary dig reveals a first hand insight into this pivotal battle of World War One.

Also known as Messines: WW1 Tunnels of Death (UK alternative title).


At Messines in Belgium, bomb disposal specialists work alongside archaeologists on WWIs biggest archaeological dig. During the First World War this was one of the killing fields of the Western Front and 100 years later the ground is still littered with unexploded shells, grenades and ammunition. Held by the British in 1914, Messines was captured by German troops, including a young Adolf Hitler, and for nearly three years the two opponents faced each other in trenches, which the archaeologists uncover. What are revealed are trenches, which have seen the results of some…

Part 02.

Production & Filming Details

  • Narrator(s):
    • Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Production:
    • Channel 5.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Channel 5 and BBC.
  • Release Date: 08 November 2012.
  • Running time: minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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