VIDEO: Injured servicemen help uncover WW1 trenches in Angus

Injured armed forces personnel turned treasure hunters are helping to uncover trenches from the First World War in Angus.

The veterans, many of whom suffer from PTSD, are working alongside archaeologists to help identify the locations of trenches while hoping to uncover artefacts at the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Barry Buddon Training Centre, near Carnoustie.

© Paul Reid
Wounded armed forces personnel turned treasure hunters are helping to uncover trenches from the First World War at MoD’s Barry Buddon Training Centre

Ten ex-servicemen have been recruited through Operation Nightingale, a project which sees wounded, injured and sick UK forces personnel and veterans take part in excavations across the defence estate in an aid to their recovery.

Similar digs elsewhere have included military debris such as soldiers’ personal kit, spent ammunition and remains of trench revetments.

The training trenches were used by soldiers to practise digging the trenches they would later have to construct and maintain on the Western Front.

The two week dig is a collaboration between Wessex Archaeology — which recruits veterans for similar projects across the UK — and the MOD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation.

© Paul Reid
Veteran ex Royal Navy Andy Boyle

Alex Sotheran, from the DIO, said the dig would help uncover details of the use of the trenches.

He said: “The project has been on the boil for about a year so it has taken a while to get it off the ground.

“It is the first dig in Scotland but hopefully it will be the first of many as we hope to get more things going for veterans who can’t get down south to MOD areas such as Salisbury Plains.

“In terms of the actual work being done, what we want to do is find out if the trenches should be maintained for their historic and cultural value.

“We don’t yet know when they were dug or whether the trenches are all part of the same training exercises in the same period in history.

“There are no photos available of any trench training taking place here around the period of the First World War so we just don’t know what we are going to uncover.”

© Paul Reid
Two bullet splashes and a Martini-Henry bullet which dates back to around late 19th century Zulu wars times
© Paul Reid
Volunteer Kevin Duncan, whose grandfather William Duncan was in the Black Watch and could have trained in the trenches

Operation Nightingale has won a British Archaeological Award in recognition of its innovative use of archaeological work to boost the recovery and career prospects of inured military personnel.

And last year it won the Historic England Best Community Action Award.

Dunfermline resident Andy Boil, who was once in the Royal Navy and has struggled with mental health issues, said it has been an “absolutely fantastic” project to be a part of.

“I have always had a bit of passion for history ever since I was at school,” he said.

“I have suffered from depression and to get the opportunity to do this is like therapy. I hope to get back to work eventually.

“I didn’t know anyone before starting this but everyone is from a similar background.

“I would love to do more in the future.”

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