Walk to honour brave tunnelling miners of First World War

One of the tunnellers at work, under enemy lines, during the First World War.
One of the tunnellers at work, under enemy lines, during the First World War.

An organisation based in Ashfield is to hold a sponsored walk to honour the heroic efforts of a select band of soldiers in the First World War.

The walk, which will start at the RAF Stirling Memorial at Annesley, takes place on Friday, June 7 to raise money to ensure the tunnellers of the Royal Engineers are not forgotten.

The men, nicknamed ‘The Moles’, were part of specialist units formed to dig tunnels under enemy lines, and many of them were miners from across Nottinghamshire.

The War Memorial Maintenance Association (WMMA), which was formed in Ashfield last year, has already carried out lots of research into the tunnellers.

Secretary Michael Biggs said: “Our research has been fruitful, and we have found the details of several brave, local souls from the coalfields of Nottinghamshire.

“The money raised from the sponsored walk will be put towards war memorial maintenance. We are also keen to find any descendants of the tunnellers, so we can expand our knowledge and appreciation of these notable men and their unique endeavours beneath the battlefields of the Great War.”

Among the Ashfield and Mansfield tunnellers killed in action during the war were: George Phillips, of Kirkby, Daniel Staley and Harry Colley, of Sutton, James Randall, of Stanton Hill, and Mansfield quartet Edwin Cook, John Cutts, Frank Sissons and Frank Armstrong.

The WMMA was founded largely because there is no statutory requirement for the upkeep of war memorials. Councils do their best to maintain them, but there is always a need for more funding.