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Bombed First World War tunnel found, with remains of 270 German soldiers still in it


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In a surprising irony, a tunnel built by the Germans in French territory during the First World War has been found after more than 100 years — and it’s of utmost urgency that its location be kept secret.

By 1917, German troops had held a hilly area some 200 km northeast of Paris for two years. From there, on what became known as the Chemin des Dames battlefront, they were able to watch for advancing French soldiers. During this time, the German soldiers, from the 10th and 11th companies of the 111th Reserve Regiment, had dug an intricate system of tunnels into the limestone for underground defences and stores, some as deep as 20 metres. One was a supply tunnel that ran 300 metres from the north side of the hill to the south side, to where the first line of German trenches lay.

In May 1917, the French tried to retake those hills, seeking to break the stalemate along the Western Front. They knew where the entrances to that Winterberg tunnel were, and bombed them.

One shell closed off the entrance, the BBC reports, and triggered explosions from ammunition stored inside, sending poisonous fumes into the shaft. Another shell closed off the exit.

Inside, the 270 soldiers, one by one, over the next six days, either suffocated or took their own lives as their oxygen ran out. Some asked comrades to kill them. Miraculously, just a day before the Germans retreated, three men were rescued, and one wrote an account of the horror they had faced in the tunnel. Read his harrowing description here.

Bombed First World War tunnel found, with remains of 270 German soldiers still in it (msn.com)

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