The First World War is imprinted on the collective memory of Britain.

But a University of Huddersfield professor has found the Great War is also seared into the British landscape.

Despite the 1914-18 conflict being fought largely overseas, scars remain on British soil.

Professor of History and author Richard Morris has found evidence of trench systems mirroring those on the Western Front.

Prof Morris, who has written numerous specialist archaeological and historical books, has carried out a wide range of research from ancient burial sites and medieval churches to 20th century townscapes and the history of aviation.

Aerial photographs can often reveal a link to the past and Prof Morris found unexpected evidence of trench warfare.

“During the Great War they built whole stretches of the front in England in order to train troops before they went overseas,” said Prof Morris.

“Sometimes live ammunition was used so that the troops knew what was in store for them.”

Aerial photography is an important research tool but can often provide unexpected results.

“You might take a picture of one thing, such as a Bronze Age hut circle, and end up with something else on your negative,” said Prof Morris.

Training trenches can be found across England including sites in Yorkshire such as at Redmires Reservoir near Sheffield and Breary Banks, North Yorkshire.

At Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, a scale replica of the Messines Ridge, site of a major battle in Belgium where the Germans were defeated in 1917, has been excavated.

There is also photographic and archaeological evidence of other transformations to the landscape during 1914-18, such as temporary settlements that were constructed as reception centres or transit camps for hundreds of thousands of troops.

The grounds of Belton House in Lincolnshire – close to the East Coast main line – were the site for an enormous city of huts.

Prof Morris is now working on a new biography of the engineer Barnes Wallis, best known as the creator of the Dambusters bouncing bomb.

His early career included time as a designer based at a once-vast First World War airship station in East Yorkshire.

Richard Morris, Professor of History at the University of Huddersfield.
 

In 1915, 1,000 acres of farmland near Howden were acquired by the Admiralty for construction of a Royal Navy airship station.

A massive complex – including enormous sheds – became the base for airships that were mainly used for convoy duty.

After the war the site was mothballed but came back to life in the 1920s when the Government decided to revive the development of airships.

Howden was the site for the construction of the R100 – with Barnes Wallis as chief designer, employed by the Airship Guarantee Company, a subsidiary of Vickers.

Prof Morris’s interest in aviation history has also led him to examine the remains of First World War airfields in places such as Tadcaster and Redcar.

Because early aircraft were so low-powered, these airfields were tiny and many did not last beyond the 1920s.

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