Volunteers at Cannock Chase led by No Man’s Land, the European Group for Great War Archaeology, recently excavated the only known Great War terrain model in the United Kingdom. Built by German prisoners of war and men from the 5th Battalion New Zealand Rifle Brigade on their return to HQ at Brocton army camp in Staffordshire in early 1918.
Cannock Chase is the site of two of the largest army camps constructed for the First World War in 1914. The model of the Belgian town of Messines is the only known Great War terrain model in the United Kingdom and one of a handful surviving in Northern Europe from this period. It shows the New Zealand sector of the 1917 battlefield.
The model was designed to train troops but could also have had a commemorative purpose. Roads, tracks, railway systems (trench and overland), all forms of trench systems (including fighting and sapped communication trenches), buildings and farmhouses, possibly block houses and machine gun positions are all painstakingly recreated. The excavation recovered an element of the II Anzac Corps lines as well. After being recorded, the model has now been reburied.
Source: Stephen Dean, Principal Archaeologist, Staffordshire County Council