Second Corporal 86297, Edgar Cook MM, of Broadway, Worcestershire (born Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in 1888), enlisted with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He transferred to the 254th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers, and was wounded in action and died on 29th October 1917. Edgar is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.
Imagine the Western Front – planes wheeling overhead in dogfights, artillery barrages whistling in to pulverise the trenches, infantry waiting for the whistle blast that would send them over the top and into the teeth of the waiting machine guns.
The war that went on beneath their feet is often forgotten, although it has left some of the deepest scars on the old battlegrounds. From the Somme to the Messines Ridge, and all points in between, the presence of the Royal Engineers Tunnelling Companies can still be seen in the massive craters their mines left behind.
Manned mainly by coal and tin miners and men with experience of civilian tunnelling work, ‘the Moles’ came into their own during February of 1915, when Major John Norton-Griffiths, a civil engineer by trade, shut down a tunnelling scheme eighteen of his employees were working on in Liverpool. The very next day, these same…
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