This is a trench digger from the World War I. On the head of this trenching tool is an inscription dated ‘1916 WWI’. There were three standard ways to dig a trench: entrenching, sapping, and tunneling. Entrenching, where a man would stand on the surface and dig downwards, was most efficient, as it allowed a large digging party to dig the full length of the trench simultaneously. However, entrenching left the diggers exposed above ground and hence could only be carried out when free of observation, such as in a rear area or at night.
Sapping involved extending the trench by digging away at the end face. The diggers were not exposed, but only one or two men could work on the trench at a time. Tunneling was like sapping except that a ‘roof’ of soil was left in place while the trench line was established and then removed when the trench was ready to be occupied.
If you have information about this trench digger that would be useful for our catalogue, contact the museum on 0800 111 323 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki Heritage Collection 2013.035.1.