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Berkhamsted’s First World War trenches to be mapped

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Conservation experts are aiming to map out the route of a network of trenches dug at Berkhamsted and Northchurch Common to train First World War soldiers.

Originally they stretched for about eight miles – but only about 500 metres of them remain in Berkhamsted after they were filled in after hostilities ended in 1918.

Hundreds of trenches were dug across commons in the Chilterns to help troops train for front-line trench warfare but most have now disappeared after being filled in or becoming overgrown.

Norman Groves, 64, of Clarence Road, Berkhamsted, will help map the trenches that remain to remind people of the ‘awfulness’ of war. He said: “Our main aim is to make sure future generations do not forget the terrible consequences of entering into any war.”

The Berkhamsted trench was used by more than 14,000 troops from the Inns of Court Officers Training Corps, nicknamed The Devil’s Own.

The unit was based nearby at what became known as Kitcheners Field – named after the 1914 war secretary.

By 1918, 2,147 of its men had died in France and three were awarded the Victoria Cross.

But the trench network, dug by the unit’s trainees just off New Road near Berkhamsted Golf Course, has become largely overgrown with scrubland.

After clearing the scrubland to find out where the trenches were, their location will be plotted on a map and published – possibly on a nearby information board.

The work, led by the Chilterns Conservation Board and The Chiltern Society, is due to last from October to April.

To find out more or volunteer to help, call Rachel Sanderson on 01844 355525, email rsanderson@chilternsaonb.org or visit www.chilternsaonb.org

 

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