What we hadn't noticed on our first visit was the headstone of another tunneler from the NZ Tunneling Company who died on the same day.
You see, I am intrigued to know how Uncle Jack died. Why? I'm not really sure; perhaps morbid curiosity; perhaps it's just that I will feel that as one of the millions who died, he would at least like his family to know what happened. And now there are possibly two men involved in this puzzle. I have looked at official records and unit diaries, but at this stage have no idea what happened.
It was poignant to stand there again, and yes Jack and I had a wee chat I guess. It was hard to walk away actually, and I have to admit to having placed a hand on the stone for a few brief moments before we left.
In 2007, on the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Arras, a special memorial was opened that paid tribute to the work of the NZ Tunneling Company. These men were given the task of taking the centuries old tunnels that had been used to extract the chalk rock, and develop these into rest areas for 20000 men prior to the Battle of Arras that started on 9 April 1917. The NZers added 20km of tunnels, and built caverns that were capable of holding these 20000 men. The memorial (it';s not just to the kiwis) included the opening up of some of these tunnels, including the 'Wellington' chamber that held 1500 men (the 'Christchurch' tunnel was apparently capable of holding 4500 men.. wow!!)
The entrance to the memorial 'Carriere Wellington'.
Lorraine standing at what is believed to be the site of an underground church service held before the assault on 9 April.
One of 15 'exit' points from which troops emerged very close to the German front lines to start their assault.