THE HAWTHORNE RIDGE CRATER PROJECT
The explosion of the mine under Hawthorne Ridge was the very first action of the Battle of the Somme. It was recorded by Geoffrey Malins at 7.20am on 1 July 1916. The area was blown up a second time on 13 November when the 51st Highland Division captured the ridge and nearby village. Working with a team of international experts, as well as volunteers, Andy will be conducting an extensive programme of research, within a defined boundary of the Beaumont-Hamel area, to create an in-depth archive of material about the 1914-18 battlefield, post-war reconstruction, the impact on the area of the Second World War and subsequent military heritage tourism.
To begin with, the project will be examining the time period between the two explosions, looking at events from both sides of No Man’s Land, and giving a unique German perspective to our understanding of events. The first phase, focusing on the clearing of undergrowth, started in January 2018. With the approval of the French authorities the next step will be to widen the path from the main road to the site because one of the key targets of the project is to improve public access, as well as managing and protecting the site for future generations. Free public access to the site will be available at all times, as one of the conditions of the project.
The Hawthorn Ridge Crater Association (HRCA), a charitable trust, has been set up to support and develop what is intended to be the most intensive study of any Great War battlefield to date. The association is a joint French-British collaboration which has arranged to lease the site from the owner, the local council, on a 99-year lease for a nominal one Euro fee. Based in France, it is supported by both Keele and Staffordshire Universities in the UK.
Information panels will be installed on-site while information will be added to the website on an ongoing basis to create a virtual resource freely available to anyone.
The Replica World War One Trench
Andy is working on his replica WW1 trench, now based near Lewes in Sussex. It has already been used for filming purposes and is open to selected school groups prior to its official opening which has, unfortunately, been delayed. See The Trench Experience page for more details.