The Crater at Lochnagar
The Crater at Lochnagar

The crater at Lochnagar was created by tunnelling towards the German lines (whilst hoping not to be heard by the Germans who were tunnelling towards the British lines) and filling them with explosive.  They were triggered on the morning of 1 July 1916 to signal the start of the advance, the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.

 

For many years the crater was used as a local tip, and a place where young men raced around on their motor bikes, until in the 1970s an Englishman, Richard Dunning, purchased the area. Over a period of time he has transformed it into a place of reverence, where people can contemplate the enormity of the events that took place.

 

For more information on the story of Lochnagar, visit the Lochnagar Foundation website

British troops running on the skyline

British troops running on the skyline

British troops running along the lip of the Lochnagar mine crater at La Boisselle, 23rd October 1916.

© IWM (Q 1479)

Looking Into the crater

Looking Into the crater

If you look hard you can see a small figure in a hi-viz vest. That is me at the bottom, with the owner, Richard Dunning. It gives you some idea of the size of the crater.

Memorial to three friends

Memorial to three friends

These three young men are from the same school, and all died on the 1st day of the Battle of the Somme. It is not clear from the inscriptions whether their bodies were recovered.

The bottom of the crater

The bottom of the crater

Sitting at the base of such a vast hole was incrediblely moving.  Despite the noise all around it is very quiet. Human remains are still coming to the surface. The next image shows human remains in 1917.

Inside the crater, 1917

Inside the crater, 1917

British graves with human bones on the surface in the Lochnagar mine crater at La Boisselle, 21 September 1917. The photo shows the same area of the ground as the previous image.

© IWM (Q 49394)

Found after 82 years

Found after 82 years

Advances in DNA has played its part in being able to identify remains which continue to come to the surface. Pte Gordon Nugent was killed on the 1 July 1916, first day of the Battle of the Somme.  He was found on 30 October 1998 and laid to rest on 1 July 2000 in the Military Cemetery, Ovillers.

Still missing

Still missing

Pte Moxham also died on the first day of the battle.  Sadly his remains have not yet been found.

His great nephew, Mark Wickham, laid this wreath on behalf of the Moxham family.