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Mud, Blood And Missing Men: Excavations At Serre, Somme, France

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Chapter Summary

The excavation at Serre was prompted by the BBC History Unit for their BBC2 series Ancestors, which was broadcast in 2004. The initial brief of the programme was to explore sites associated with the war poet, Wilfred Owen. Excavations concentrated on a section of German trench known as the Heidenkopf or Quadrilateral. The remains of one British and two German soldiers were discovered during an excavation there in 2003. This chapter discusses the process of identification and provides biographies of the two German soldiers. The identification of two of the three bodies was a significant achievement, made possible by careful excavation and conservation work and an international investigation using sources in Britain, the United States and Germany. The identification demonstrates that the application of forensic archaeological techniques, coupled with detailed historical research can produce striking results.

Keywords: German soldiers; German trench; Heidenkopf; Serre; Wilfred Owen



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