The Crater after the war in 1919
The Crater after the war in 1919

How :-

Close to a British communication trench called Lochnagar Street tunnellers dug a shaft down about 90 feet (27 Metres) deep into the chalk. They then excavated some 300 yards (91 Metres) towards the German lines, placing 60,000 lbs (27 tonnes) of ammonal explosive in two large adjacent underground chambers 60 feet (18 Metres) apart. Two minutes before the attack began, the mine was exploded, leaving the massive crater that we see today.

Crater Side Elevation - Click image to enlarge
Crater Side Elevation - Click image to enlarge
No contemporary elevation drawings of the mining activity at Lochnagar exist,
but after close study of existing documents, the drawing above is as accurate a
representation of the arrangement of shafts and galleries that can be produced
at the present time. The drawing will be updated should more information come to light.
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert and Peter Reed © 2010

The reason that it is so large was that the chambers were overcharged. This means that sufficient explosive was used to not just break the surface and form a crater but enough to cause spoil to fall in the surrounding fields and form a lip around the crater. The 15 feet (4.5 Metres) lip created protected the advancing troops from enfilade machine-gun fire from the nearby village of La Boisselle.

For more information on how the crater was formed see the main Military Mining page.

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