Beneath the Killing Fields

Exploring the Subterranean Landscapes of the Western Front

Matthew Leonard

Date Published :
March 2017
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Series :
Modern Conflict Archaeology
Illustration :
integrated color images
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781783463060
Pages : 192
Dimensions : 9.5 X 6.5 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Beneath the Killing Fields of the Western Front still lies a hidden landscape of industrialized conflict virtually untouched since 1918. This subterranean world is an ambiguous environment filled with material culture that that objectifies the scope and depth of human interaction with the diverse conflict landscapes of modern war.

Covering the military reasoning for taking the war underground, as well as exploring the way that human beings interacted with these extraordinary alien environments, this book provides a more all-encompassing overview of the Western Front. The underground war was intrinsic to trench warfare and involved far more than simply trying to destroy the enemy’s trenches from below. It also served as a home to thousands of men, protecting them from the metallic landscapes of the surface.

With the aid of cutting edge fieldwork conducted by the author in these subterranean locales, this book combines military history, archaeology and anthropology together with primary data and unique imagery of British, French, German and American underground defenses in order to explore the realities of subterranean warfare on the Western Front, and the effects on the human body and mind that living and fighting underground inevitably entailed.

About The Author

Matthew Leonard’s research is concerned with the engagement of man and the underground worlds of the Western Front during the First World War. As a conflict archaeologist, Matthew’s research adopts a modern interdisciplinary approach, incorporating elements of several disciplines to examine how these subterranean landscapes were created and experienced, and how existentialism, sensorial interaction and the human body coped with the extreme pressures of war life underground. He is a member of the Durand Group and carries out regular fieldwork in France beneath the battlefields of the First World War. More information concerning his research can be found at


"...a very interesting look at an aspect of life on the western front."

- Battles and Book Reviews

"Read Beneath the Killing Fields to develop a very different perspective of the war, how it was fought and its affects upon the combatants."

- The NYMAS Review

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