The Western Front Today - St Eloi Craters

The village of St Eloi is principally remembered today for its wartime history of underground mine warfare.  Within the small confines of the area some 30 mines were detonated by both British and German forces.

The British exploded six of these at one time (27 March 1916) with the largest - of 95,600 lbs - being exploded by 1st Canadian Tunnelling Company along with 18 other mines to mark the start of the Battle of Messines on 7 June 1917.  This particular mine resulted in the capture of St Eloi by the British 41st Division.

Two of the largest St Eloi craters - both detonated on 27 March 1916 - remain today and straddle the old German lines of 1916-17.  Both of these are on private land and are used for fishing or swimming.  A third, smaller, mine also lies nearby.

Film Footage of St Eloi Crater

Before Endeavours Fade, Rose E.B. Coombs, After the Battle 1994
Major & Mrs Holt's Battlefield Guide - Somme, Leo Cooper 2000

In preparation for the Battle of the Somme, the British launched a seven-day artillery bombardment in which 1,500 guns fired 1.6 million rounds.

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