Military History Library

Digging the Trenches: The Archaeology of the Western Front

Digging the Trenches: The Archaeology of the Western Front

View the presentation HERE

On the snowy evening of November 2nd, 2017, Valour Canada, the Archaeology Society of Alberta, the University of Calgary, and The Military Museums Foundation, welcomed Mr. Andrew Robertshaw to Calgary’s The Military Museums to speak about his archaeological findings during excavations on the Western Front.

To an audience of 220 that consisted of cadets, archaeologists, hobbyists, teachers, historians, soldiers from both Calgary and Edmonton, and other interested members of the public, Robertshaw captivated the audience with the stories of four German soldiers previously lost on the battlefield, who had now been found thanks to modern archaeological techniques, academic research, and fortuitous occurrences while researching.

Excavating the Western Front is extremely “grim” at times, said Robertshaw, but there is a “payoff” when all of the research, work, and findings come together to create a fact-based picture of the past. In those cases, a lost soldier has been identified and given a proper burial; thankfully, they haven’t been “killed twice”.

The contrasts Robertshaw drew as he compared the Commonwealth and German treatment of their respective war dead was very thought-provoking, so much so that a young viewer found the topic “fascinating” and stated that they “were so interested and hungry to learn more”. Overall, Digging the Trenches was a great presentation by an experienced and charismatic speaker.

To view the presentation, click HERE.


Speaker’s Biography:

Andrew Robertshaw is a self-employed military historian, author, and broadcaster. He was previously Curator/Manager of The Royal Logistic Corps Museum in Deepcut, England, and before that Head of Education at The National Army Museum in London. Robertshaw has recently been historical advisor on the sets of Wonder Woman and War Horse.

During his career, Andrew has lectured to international audiences on many aspects of military history including leadership, infantry history, and military medicine. He is also an honorary lecturer in public archaeology at University College London and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. For the past twenty years, Andy has been conducting archaeological projects on the Western Front.

Over the past fifteen years he has regularly appeared in archaeology and military family history series such as the BBC series 'Two Men in a Trench', Channel 4's 'Time Team’ and ‘Blood and Bullets’ for The History Channel. He is best known for the series ‘Finding the Fallen’ and ‘The Trench Detectives’.

He is currently building a replica trench system in and restoring a Victorian house in Kent.

To learn more about Andrew Robertshaw, visit his website HERE.


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