National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Thornton Gallery

Thornton Gallery

Going Underground: The New Zealanders at Arras

The New Zealand Tunnelling Company was one of the last units to leave the UK for home in February 1919.

An exhibition consisting of contemporary photographs taken by Brett Killington (a New Zealander living in England) of the underground quarries at Arras, Northern France where the New Zealand Tunnelling Company and Pioneers turned the quarries into an underground ‘city’ that could house thousands of soldiers and provide a safe and secret route to the front line.

The Kiwis or “Diggers”, as they were known at the time, went about connecting the quarries through a series of tunnels that would eventually take them from the centre of Arras to under the German front line. Each connecting quarry was given a New Zealand place name. The miners remembered their “home” in New Zealand and recreated it under the city of Arras starting by naming the quarry closest to the city centre as ‘Russell’ and finishing with the one closest to the German front line as ‘Bluff’.

All of this work was done over about five months in the winter of 1916-1917 as part of the preparations for battle.

 

Now open.