WWI Tunnels of Death: The Big Dig (2012): S01E02 – Earthquaking the Ridge


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).


By 1917 German troops had been facing the British in trenches at Messines for almost three years. Archaeologists discover German tunnels – evidence of an underground war. A camera is lowered down a flooded German mineshaft to looking for remnants of this subterranean battleground because on one night here 19 bombs were detonated beneath German strongpoints killing 10,000 German soldiers in seconds and creating the biggest explosion that the world had ever seen.

Part 01.

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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