World War I instruction model of a trench system, and associated earthwork and building remains 850m north west of Fairoak Cottages, Cannock Chase

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021326

Date first listed: 26-Nov-2004

Map

Ordnance survey map of World War I instruction model of a trench system, and associated earthwork and building remains 850m north west of Fairoak Cottages, Cannock Chase
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Staffordshire

District: Cannock Chase (District Authority)

Parish: Brindley Heath

National Grid Reference: SK 00283 16817

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Life size and scale model trench systems were constructed at or near army camps throughout Britain during World War I to teach soliders the rudiments of trench warfare. Few trench systems, built to life size or as models, are known to survive. Trench models are particularly rare. The trench model at the former army camp of Rugeley is a fine example of this class of monument. It appears to be virtually complete and provides a clear illustration of the arrangement of trenches forming a `typical' trench system in use during World War I. A field survey undertaken here has recorded the layout of the trenches, the associated earthworks and structure to the north. These remains are publicly accessible within Cannock Chase Forest Park and have significant educational potential. They also act as a memorial to those who went from Cannock Chase to fight in the trenches on the Western Front.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a World War I instruction model of a trench system, and associated earthworks and building remains. The model of the trench system and the adjacent building formed a part of Rugeley Camp, one of two army camps established during World War I on Cannock Chase. Rugeley Camp and the other camp at Brockton, about 3km to the north west, served initially as transit camps for troops en route to the Western Front. As the war progressed both camps became more permanent training establishments, with a steady influx of troops from all over the country, including those dispatched from the Empire countries. Together the two camps could have accommodated about 40,000 men. Various schools of instruction were established at the camps, which provided training in the use of rifles and machine guns, and courses in scouting, signalling and gas warfare. At Brockton Camp teaching facilities included a scale model of Messines Ridge, constructed out of concrete. Messines Ridge in the northern part of the Western Front, was captured by the Allied forces in June 1917. Little now survives of this model. After World War I parts of both camps remained in military use, but in the 1920s much of Rugeley Camp was destroyed before being planted with trees by the Forestry Commission. The model trench system at Rugeley lies on the eastern edge of the former camp, where the ground slopes gently from west to east. The model is rectilinear in shape and measures approximately 12m north-south at the eastern end, 18m across at the western end, and is just over 40m long east-west. It consists of a series of steep-sided, flat-bottomed trenches dug into gravel, many of which are interconnected, separated by D-shaped mounds. The sides of the model are embanked. Some of the material for the model's construction probably came from the level quarried area immediately to the north. The front line or fire trench is defined on its outer (northern) edge by an earthen parapet. Along this side the trench model stands to a maximum height of 1.5m above the level base of the adjacent quarry. The sinous form of the eastern part of this trench represents four fire bays. In battle it was from these positions that much of the attacking rifle fire would have been directed. The average dimensions of this trench are 0.6m wide at the base, 1.7m wide across the top and 0.6m deep. To the rear (south) of the front line trench is a network of trenches running parallel with, and at right and acute angles to, the front line. In profile they are of a similar size to the front line. In battle these connecting trenches enabled troops to move to and from the front line, and provided access to shelters, stores and other auxiliary structures. Also within the area to the rear of the front line are several shorter trenches, representing the location of such features as a command post, a kitchen and latrines. The dimensions of the trenches suggest that the model was intended to be between a quarter and a third life size. The layout of the trench model is directly comparable to the trench systems illustrated in the Manual of Field Engineering, published by the General Staff of the War Office in 1911. In this manual the area in front of a trench system is shown to have been protected by a series of devices, including barbed wire entanglements, alarm and trip wires, and alarm guns. The level area to the north of the trench model would have provided a suitable space for the positioning of such devices. At its north western corner the level area has been extended to form a flat-bottomed trench, up to 4.7m wide, 10.3m long and 0.7m deep. It may have served as a storage bay. Immediately to the north of the flat-bottomed trench and level area is a building platform about 25m long. Brick and concrete foundations and the concrete floor of the building constructed here remain visible. A plan produced of Rugeley Camp in 1918 indicates that this building served as the Brigade Office. The remains of this building, the platform on which it stands, the adjacent trench and the level area are all included in the scheduling, preserving their relationship with the trench model. In addition, the scheduling includes a 5m margin of support and protection on the monument's eastern, western and southern boundaries. The utility pole and the deer warning post are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 35861

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
War Office, , Manual of Field Engineering, (1911)
Whitehouse, C J, G P, , A Town For Four Winters, (1983)
Welch, C, 'Environmental Planning Unit Research Report Number 2' in An investigation of a trench model at the WWI camp at Rugeley, (1997), 5,Fig 4
Welch, C, 'Environmental Planning Unit Research Report Number 2' in An investigation of a trench model at the WWI camp at Rugeley, (1997)
Other
Title: Cannock Chase Map Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Text on the back of the map

End of official listing