By John Laffin
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Additional resources for Digging up the Diggers war. Australian battlefield archaeology Book
In M'orld War I1 many men, during their early months of soldiering, carried a steel mirror in their breast pocket in the same hope that it would stop a bullet. The mirror-and the hope-was soon discarded. WHERE TO SEARCH 45 Above: The 'Duralumin War Knife', dated 1914, was found at Voormezeele, Ypres Salient, where AIF heavy artillery was positioned in 1917. ' as well as with 'Cambridge 1914'. This knife was never standard issue and to find it labelled as a war knife and dated with the first year of the war is a little surprising.
Many soldiers of all armies smoked pipes during World War I; these pipes could have belonged to British, Australian, Canadian or New Zealand soldiers. Below: An AIF matchbox cover found in a billet at Bapaume, France, which was reached in March 1917, five months after the end of the first Somme campaign. The Germans fired the town before withdrawing and the Diggers slept where they could in ruins and in cellars. Several, asleep in the town hall, were killed by a delayed action mine. T h e matchbox cover was left behind in a house on the Cambrai road.
At the time this was not considered a high price for such an important victory. The tunnels were the most interesting part of the battlefield and are entered today down steps and through a steel door which did not exist in 1917. The first room on the left was an office for the officer of the day, who was responsible for troop movements through the tunnels. This room contains original wooden supports and some weapons and shells of the time. T o the right a tunnel travels in the direction of the Valley of Souchez (or Valley of the Zouaves), nearly parallel to the old front line.