Online tour 9 - Dugouts

The second part of the museum you can explore a reconstructed British underground tunnel system from 1917, based on a deep dugout located underneath Zonnebeke church. In 1917, more and more troops had been stationed in Flanders in an ever more razed landscape. Suitable accommodation close to the frontline had become scarce. By the start of 1916, the British were building what they called deep dugouts. These are mostly found at about 10m beneath the surface of the earth and give shelter for about 50 to 2,000 men. The soldiers lived like moles. These quarters were damp, foul-smelling, and the corridors were infested with vermin. But still, at least they were safe places offering some comfort.

Object 1: Lantern (MZ 04578)

Large deep dugouts were lit with electricity, but in most smaller tunnels candles and kerosene lamps were used, like this British lantern from 1918. This object also served as a heating element for a drinking cup. (MMP1917, MZ 04578)


Object 2: Duplex lamp (MZ 07135)

This 1915 British lantern was used in a deep dugout and was manufactured by J. Hinks & Son, a company based in Birmingham. In the early 19th century, Joseph Hinks improved the oil lamps that were common in those days. He invented the Duplex lamp, an extremely popular oil lamp that was produced in Britain until the 1980s. During World War I, the company's seal stood for quality, not unimportant given the poor conditions in deep dugouts. (MMP1917, MZ 07135))

lant tas

Object 3: water pump (MZ 02066)

This British water pump was used in a deep dugout and was manufactured by J. Tylor & Sons Ltd in London. The company dated back to the 18th century, but specialized in water supply and drainage at the outbreak of the First World War. The water pump in the pump room was the beating heart of a deep dugout. It had to work every minute of the day, otherwise the structure would be flooded in a few hours. Soldiers were always busy pumping, usually by hand. (MMP1917, MZ 02066)