49:03 | History

America Underground: Secret City of WWI

The History Channel

Jeff Gusky is an ER doctor from Texas. His interest in World War I begins with the realisation that this first truly modern conflict must have posed the ultimate challenge for people like himself dedicated to saving lives. Millions of soldiers were the victims of the first weapons of mass destruction. But when he goes to France to search the battlefields for clues about the lives of the soldiers who fought there, he finds only cemeteries and monuments. World War I has been sanitised and covered up. Then, one day, he visits an ancient limestone quarry in a hillside in Northern France close to where some of the original trenches of the Western Front were dug. What he finds inside that hillside is an underground city complete with railcars and electricity. And on its limestone walls are hundreds of inscriptions and images left by soldiers who were once billeted there. To his great surprise there are American names among them. With the help of military experts and historians he traces them to the 26th or Yankee Division, a unit from New England that was among the first to arrive in France. Gusky's mission is to tell the story of Yankee Division in this hidden world of World War I: to find out who these men were, where they came from, and what happened to them. The film follows his progress, which takes him from the underground caves and battlefields of France back to New England, where he tracks down some of the descendants of the soldiers whose names he discovered on the walls of the underground city.

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