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Ravrick

Practice trenches Bulford Ridge

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Ravrick

Hi,

I live in a small village called Shipton bellinger, near Tidworth on the Wiltshire/Hampshire border. To the west lies Bulford and on the top of the ridge is a fantastic array of WW1 practice trenches, still quite visible now that all the scrub has been cleared. I beleive they were constructed by the Australians. I have seen many photos of Australians/New Zealanders in and around the village during WW1, but many units were sent here for divisional training before shipping out to France. Does anybody have any information about this area?

Many thanks, Rick

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Guest KevinEndon

Can these trenches be viewed from Google Earth. Where would they be in a direction from the Kiwi.

Kevin

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Moonraker

Rick I have a great deal of information about Bulford. enough to cause bandwidth problems for this website. No doubt you have checked your local library, which will be able to get you a copy of N D G James' Plain Soldiering (recently offered by one bookseller for £500 - ten times what I would pay for a copy if I didn't have one already). I visited the practice trenches above Bulford last summer with an MoD archaeologist who is also a Forum member, who reckoned they were some of the best in the country and worthy of preservation.

A couple of years ago I was trying to pinpoint the location of Bedlam, which was a former farmhouse south east of Tidworth and the site of other WWI practice trenches, now mostly overgrown but still traceable. A Google search led me to the Shipton Bellinger village website, which enabled me to work out where the buildings once were.

You probably know that a mile south west of Shipton Bellinger is the site of Park House Camp, which was a pre-WWI camping-site that had hutments built on it early in the war. The then-unknown Montgomery (the later Field Marshal) was based there, as was Ivor Gurney, a well-known poet of the Great War who afterwards succumbed to mental problems.

To the south west of the village is where Percy Toplis, the Monocled Mutiener, murdered a taxi-driver involved in one of the many postwar swindles at Bulford Barracks. Toplis fled the area and was later shot dead by police in Scotland.

In the war your locality was dominated by British Kitchener battalions (with cavalry and yeomanry at Tidworth); then in 1916 the Australians were quartered in your local camps, with Park House proving very unpopular because of its remoteness. (At least Tidworth and Bulford had railway lines.) There's a story that some Australian troops chased one of their MPs through Shipton Bellinger, to be fended off by a British officer and his wife who lived there and who came out of

their house with shotguns.

Moonraker

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Moonraker
Can these trenches be viewed from Google Earth. Where would they be in a direction from the Kiwi.

Kevin

Kevin

I was rather hoping that someone more expert than I would have responded, but the trenches are on Beacon Hill, perhaps 200m east of the Kiwi - and, happily, in my notes I've just discovered the grid reference: 205442.

Moonraker

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303man

And just to the East of the Moving target Range 5th range from the left are another set with the Front communication and second line trenches clearly seen and a further communication trench heading northwards. A quick look and many areas of trenches can be identified in the surrounding area. Windows live local gives crystal clear images. http://maps.live.com/

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Richard Osgood

Hi Rick,

I'm the MOD archaeologist that Moonraker refers to (!). I know the set of trenches you mean very well. They would be even more clear of scrub were in not for the fact that Juniper (a protected species down on the Plain) is relatively commonplace over them. I am still unsure as to the units that used them - but their form is sensational, island traverses, comms trenches, and even a reserve line that makes use of an existing Bronze Age linear ditch! I have found rounds from the 1920's through to WWII, SLR and SA80 over this practice set but, curiously, no WWI yet. There are also elements of dugouts as you can see wriggly tin in places. There is a great plan of this set of practice trenches in the latest Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine (vol 100). I'd be delighted if you have any specifics of the Units that trained here - I still believe it to be Kitchener forces. There is a section in Huntly Gordon's 'The Unreturning Army' which refers to OTCs use of Perham practice trenches

New Zealanders pretty certainly cut practice trenches above their base camp, Sling Camp, just to the side of the chalk kiwi hill figure (elements of these trenches still survive) as the practice trenches are visible in various 1918-19 photographs with New Zealanders in them

In terms of the main Australian Practice trenches on the Plain, well certainly for the 3rd Division, this was the set at the Bustard which our team excavated as part of the Plugstreet project where we followed the unit out from training to theatre, excavating an element of the Battlefield of Messines, 7 June 1917. This practice trench set even had practice mine craters.

hope this helps in some way

all things good

Richard

Hi,

I live in a small village called Shipton bellinger, near Tidworth on the Wiltshire/Hampshire border. To the west lies Bulford and on the top of the ridge is a fantastic array of WW1 practice trenches, still quite visible now that all the scrub has been cleared. I beleive they were constructed by the Australians. I have seen many photos of Australians/New Zealanders in and around the village during WW1, but many units were sent here for divisional training before shipping out to France. Does anybody have any information about this area?

Many thanks, Rick

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montbrehain

Rick , did you get the emails I sent ? "MO"

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Alan_J

It certainly does....thanks for that. No wonder I never came across them before: someone told me that they were on the same side of the road as the Kiwi, and they're not!

Thanks

Alan

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Richard Osgood

Ah,

but this link is to just one of the trench systems in the region :lol: (and also next to a current live firing range and thus out of bounds!!!!) - the BEST set in the region are on the same side of the road as the Kiwi, up on Beacon Hill - its the bare looking area some 800 yds to the east of that centred in the link...

cheers

R

It certainly does....thanks for that. No wonder I never came across them before: someone told me that they were on the same side of the road as the Kiwi, and they're not!

Thanks

Alan

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Moonraker
It certainly does....thanks for that. No wonder I never came across them before: someone told me that they were on the same side of the road as the Kiwi, and they're not!

Thanks

Alan

Alan: I guess that the road you refer to is that from Bulford to Tidworth; 303man's link shows trenches next to the rifle ranges on low ground on the road's western side, and he does refer to these as "another set", different to those that Richard and I visited, which were on the hill top on the eastern side (with great views across the Plain), on the same side as the Kiwi.

I've tried navigating across the map in the link, and also looked up the spot on Google Earth but haven't been able to bring up a good image, but then I'm not too good at this sort of thing - though I could find my way back there without too much trouble.

Moonraker

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Alan_J

Moonraker, Richard,

After posting this, I read back and realised you were talking about trenches east of the Kiwi - which would make them on the same side. They are further along from the Kiwi than I had been told (by a friend of mine), but I know the area fairly well so should have no trouble finding them next time I'm up that way.

Thanks

Alan

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jainvince

Thanks for the links, fascinating. Am told that there were practice trenches locally but they have all now gone. Presumably there were many about the UK which have dissappeared over time.

Thanks again

BernardP

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Guest KevinEndon

Hanley Park in Stoke on Trent did have numerous practise trenches and can be seen on a dry summer from a hot air balloon. I will go and try a google search to see if they still come up.

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Moonraker
...Am told that there were practice trenches locally but they have all now gone. Presumably there were many about the UK which have dissappeared over time.

Thanks again

BernardP

At the risk of going over old ground, several sets of practice trenches still to be made out were identified by Pals earlier this year; for those near Marlow, Buckinghamshire, see

this thread

Moonraker

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jainvince
At the risk of going over old ground, several sets of practice trenches still to be made out were identified by Pals earlier this year; for those near Marlow, Buckinghamshire, see

this thread

Moonraker

Thanks for the links, again most interesting. Not wishing to go over old ground, its a pity that there is no catalogue of where such remains are located because it could be useful to schools studying WW1, especially those who cannot afford to visit the battlefields but want to put more depth to paper/internet studies.

BernardP

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Moonraker
Thanks for the links, again most interesting. Not wishing to go over old ground, its a pity that there is no catalogue of where such remains are located because it could be useful to schools studying WW1, especially those who cannot afford to visit the battlefields but want to put more depth to paper/internet studies.

BernardP

I think many children would be a bit disappointed to visit such "remains" in the UK. They're just depressions and humps in the ground, which need professional skills to work out the different types of trenches. They're nothing like the "preserved" trenches that I understand can be found on the Continent. I didn't have an exact location for those near Marlow, and walked forlornly around for a while (not a dog-walker in sight when I needed local knowledge). I found some likely looking marks in the ground, which, checking later, were what I was looking for.

Likewise I saw a few depressions at Bedlam, and when Richard and I went there a week or two later he confirmed that I was correct but pointed out a lot more signs of trenches that I had missed in undergrowth.

The practice trenches for Chisledon Camp, south of Swindon, have been ploughed out, (south east of Lower Upham Farm) but close to the Ridgeway Trail there is a pit where a mine was exploded, but it's just a big depression in the ground; I seem to recall that when I visited it two or three years ago some farmer's rubbish had been dumped there. To be honest, I've seen more exciting chalk pits and quarries.

Moonraker

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Alan_J

Back to the trenches on Beacon Hill - I managed to get up there this weekend and took a few photos. They are not the best quality having been cropped and compressed to under 100Kb, but here they are. The first photo is of the trenches on the left hand (north) side of the road as it runs towards Tidworth. These are not the ones in the centre of the link posted by 303man in post 8, but they are the set a little to the south, near the road. They are near the firing range but only a few yards off the road, and as there was no firing today I took a quick look.

post-5390-1196017362.jpg

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Alan_J

The next picture is of the trenches on Beacon Hill itself (south of the road) - the ones Moonraker referred to above. You can't see these so easily on live, but on the ground they are very extensive, and pretty well preserved. They cover quite a large area, and also have a number of different layouts, including the island traverses. Very impressive, and now I know where they are I will go back and have a more thorough look sometime (the light was going by the time I got up there today). Thanks to those who helped with their location.

Cheers

Alan

post-5390-1196017602.jpg

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Jem2109
Thanks for the links, again most interesting. Not wishing to go over old ground, its a pity that there is no catalogue of where such remains are located because it could be useful to schools studying WW1, especially those who cannot afford to visit the battlefields but want to put more depth to paper/internet studies.

BernardP

I have to agree with Moonraker sadly. I spent many years playing in these area's, I lived in Tidworth and Shipton as a child and am fascinated by this thread, but as a child I would never have guessed what they were . I never knew all of this, and now I'm interested I live up in Cheshire! typical!

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Ravrick

Hi guys, many thanks for all the imput, efforts and photos, I have also seen one or two concrete foundations of small huts/buildings around the area, I thought they may have been visiting unit HQ,s or possibly part of the old WW2 german prison camp that was at parkhouse, I will be home at Christmas so i might be able to get some more photos of the area. There is a mention in the WW2 war diary of the 2nd Ox Bucks LI of the trench system as they crossed it during a mock attack on shipton before flying into Normandy on D Day.

Cheers, Rick

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Dave1914

Facsinating stuff, and some great photos!

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Moonraker

I walked past these trenches today and wondered if the "no digging" signs (a spade with a diagonal bar through it) were new, as I couldn't recall them from my last visit. I don't see any on Alan's photos above, so I guess they must be. There are great views of Salisbury Plain from the top of the hill. I approached it via the site of Park House Camp (pre-WWI a summer camping site, then wartime hutments) and left it very close to the Kiwi (the emblem carved in the chalk by New Zealand troops in 1919).

Moonraker

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silkman3811

Best photograph of these trenches is the aerial view available at English Heritage - amazing to see these in such fantastic condition (almost like a film set!)

I haven't copied the image as English Heritage can get a bit shirty about such things... However, here is the link:

http://www.englishhe...nt/1865341.html

cheers

Steve

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