UK & World News
First World War Training Ground Rediscovered
Military historians and archaeologists are exploring a newly rediscovered First World War trench complex in Hampshire, built to train British soldiers before they went to fight on the Western Front against the Germans.
The site near Gosport is an old Ministry of Defence (MoD) training ground, now overgrown with ferns and gorse bushes and used predominantly by local dog walkers.
It covers an area the size of 17 football pitches and has both British and German trenches together with a no-man's land in between.
Its unearthing exactly a 100 years after the start of the so called "war to end all wars" is being used to encourage a new generation to learn more about the history of the conflict.
The MoD's senior archaeologist, Richard Osgood, who has begun examining the network of ditches, said: "This is a really exciting find, because you've got two opposing sets of trenches, a British line and a German line, and it has all the classic textbook things you want from a set of trenches, just as you'd find on the Western front."
English Heritage has brought in the TV historian Dan Snow to be the face of the new find and bring the discovery to a wider, more general audience and urge everyone to get involved in exploring the historical legacy of the war.
"This is a massive practice battlefield, covering acres of southern England," he said.
"It shows how seriously they took this central problem of how to break through German lines, how to break through that bloody stalemate on the Western Front."
Current serving soldiers are being used to help map out the trench complex and get an idea of the trials of trying to fight a war in such primitive surroundings.
Lance Corporal Robert Walters, from 4 Rifles, has served in Afghanistan, but feels he would have struggled as a Tommy in the First World War.
"We've gone through different war zones, urban environments and everything, but to live and fight in this and what our forefathers went through is amazing," he said.
"We've seen harsh times, but what they went through its unimaginable."
English Heritage says the find marks the start of a project called "Home Front Legacy 1914-18", where together with the Council for British Archaeology, of which Dan Snow is president, it hopes to record the physical remains of the war on home territory.
:: Sky News has launched a special Twitter account, @SkyNewsWW1, which will tweet daily updates to followers from June 28 on the events that took place between 1914 and 1918, as part of its special coverage of the centenary of the First World War.
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