The remains of more than 40 soldiers who died in the First World War have been uncovered by archaeologists working on a site in Wijtschate in West Flanders province, part of the war’s main Western front and part of the battle of Passchendaele. The dig was funded by crowd-funding, and involves an area of about one hectare which will be the site of new construction. The project is of importance because most of the site remains untouched since the end of the war almost 100 years ago.
Wijtschate was a German position at the height of the war, but remains already discovered have been determined – on the basis of uniforms, to be French, German and British, which allows historians to map the progress of the war in that area.
“The amazing thing is that we get visits from a great many Germans,” said Jasper Deconynck of the archaeological team. “Because of this unique spot and its special circumstances, many people are interested in visiting the site in person.”
Those who took part in the crowd-funding are rewarded with site visits and personal guided tours.
As well as human remains, which are given a military burial and identified if possible, the dig has also turned up interesting articles such as household equipment – probably the belongings of local people which were taken over by the fighting troops when the war started.