Title: Beneath Hill 60: Australian Miners’ Secret Warfare Beneath the Trenches of the Western Front
Author: Davies, Will
Edition: 1st Edition
Publication Date: 2010
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 272 pages
Comments: The story of the Australian miners and soldiers who tunnelled under Hill 60 near Ypres and eventually broke through to create a new frontline and enable the march to Berlin.
We all remember images from WWI of massive artillery barrages and soldiers crossing shattered landscapes towards certain slaughter. Beneath these killing fields of the Western Front, another war was taking place, a deadly game 30 metres down, played between thousands of troops. These were not infantrymen… but miners. Their mutual goal was to tunnel beneath ‘no man’s land’, under the opposing lines and destroy the German enemy from below. Unfortunately, the Germans had the same idea and were digging in from the other side.
Over 4585 Australian miners took part in this secret subterranean war, fighting under stress and conditions that terrified even the most hardened infantryman on the surface.
To coincide with ANZAC Day, the action packed story of Australia’s cat-and-mouse underground mine warfare – one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented, and mystifying conflicts of WW I will be told onscreen. This film tie-in book will tell the story not only of this secret struggle beneath the Western Front that combined daring engineering, technology and science, but also share the exhilarating and horrific adventures of other soldiers and miners working along the front line.
Few on the surface knew of the brave, claustrophobic and sometimes barbaric work of these tunnellers.
The 1st Australian Tunneling Division was responsible for the mines set under ‘Hill 60’, a high point that dominated that part of the killing fields of Belgium. They were led by Captain Oliver Woodward who had started his mining career in Charters Towers, Queensland and went on to head BHP in Australia. His bravery and that of his men in guarding those underground mines and their subsequent massive explosions broke the gridlocked trench warfare that had continued for 3 years.
Through exhaustive research, Will Davies, has uncovered first-hand accounts of life for the tunnellers and soldiers at the front. In sharing their hopes, dreams, victories and disappointments he tells the broad story of day after day in the mud at the front line and uncovers the glorious spirit of these men who fought and died for their countries.
BENEATH HILL 60 is an unforgettable story.