Tunnel Business Magazine

OCT 2018

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TUNNELINGONLINE.COM 3 2 TBM: TUNNEL BUSINESS MAGAZINE // OCTOBER 2018 F E AT U R E S T O R Y ember 11, 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, but some researchers already have been busy preserving the past Dr. Pascal Sirguey had wait- ed two years for this day and he was taking a few final min- utes to savor the moment. It was a sunny morning in early 2017, and students, historians and scholars had gathered in Arras, France, to attend the remembrance ceremony of the Battle of Arras in World War I. While this year marks the official end of World War I, the commemoration marked a little-known, yet significant contribu ealand to the war efforts in helping to win the legendary battle. Sirguey's efforts would docu- ment one more chapter in the Great War. Sirguey is a senior lecturer tional School of Sur- veying at the University of ealand. His attendance at the ceremony was the culmination of an ambitious two-year scanning project that captured more than half of the historic un- derground network of tunnels and quarries in Arras. Preserving History During World War I, some ealanders were sent overseas. Among them, wer Zealand Engineers Tunneling Compan C), a tough bunch made up of miners, quarrymen and laborers with a secret mission to help under- ground warfare and thwart the advances of enemy forces. The tunnelers were the first ealanders deployed on the Western Fr ch 1916. Working ahead of a ma- jor battle planned by the allied forces to break the German front in April 1917, the tunnel- ers were tasked with connect- ing a network of abandoned chalk quarries, some dating back to the Ages. They would create a 2.3-km long sub- terranean passage where allied soldiers could easily move un- derground and eventually take the enemy by surprise on the morning of the battle. The tunnels and quarries were far from simple dirt shafts, however. They could accommodate 24,000 men and included a light rail sys- tem, fully equipped hospital, electric lights, kitchens, la- trines, running water and liv- ing quarters. The goal was to develop these spaces so assault troops could live underground yet secretly access the front- line. The tunnelers named the main quarries after towns in ealand, from Russell in the north down to Bluff in the south. After the war, the tun- nels were forgotten until re- discovered in the 1990s. Sirguey and his colleague Richard Hemi, also from the surveying school at the Uni- versity of Otago, learned of the tunnels after Hemi attend- ed the opening of a tunnel in Zealand's WWI involvement and the role of the counter- miners. "I am from France and lived half an hour from the site but had never heard of the tunnels," Sirguey said. Their interest piqued, they devised a project, LiDARRAS, to use LiDAR technology and capture a permanent digital record of the tunnels. It would require surveying and scan- ning what remained of the network and creating 3D mod- els and virtual environment of the caverns. Tunnel Vision Students scan the past to preserve the future In early 2017, students, historians and scholars had gathered in Arras, France, to attend the remembrance ceremony of the Battle of Arras in World War I. (Photo: Pascal Sirguey.)

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