This Man Has Built Half an Acre of WWI-Style Trenches Near Gatwick Airport

By Gerald Lynch on at

We may be commemorating 100 years since Britain entered WWI, but the trenches live on in a quiet corner of Surrey. The Telegraph today has a fascinating profile on Andrew Robertshaw, a military historian and former head of education at the National Army Museum. He's spent 18 months turning a field in Charlwood, Surrey, into a period-accurate series of WWI trenches.

The idea came to Robertshaw after a stint working as a consultant on Steven Spielberg's War Horse film in 2011 (a movie Robertshaw says is littered with inaccuracies). Left with a pile of props when filming concluded, he decided to create an educational monument to the war, bringing to life once more the hardships those living in the trenches faced during the conflict. 200 tonnes of clay in total were dug out, and Robertshaw even roped in 30 volunteer soldiers returning from Afghanistan to finish the warren-like network.

Complete with sandbags, historically accurate equipment and uniforms, and even the foreboding site of barbed wire fencing, Robertshaw now opens the site up to school groups. However, despite the work that's gone into it, it's not a permanent structure. Instead, Robertshaw is hoping to expand to a 24-acre site in Cambridgeshire, which would become a permanent working memorial to those that gave their lives in the trenches of the Great War. [Telegraph]