First World War Sites in north west Wales




Tan y Coed World War 1 Trenches

The woodland to the west of Tan y Coed was used as a training area for soldiers based at Kingsbridge Camp, Llanfaes, during the First World War. The camp, originally a training base of the Royal Anglesey Royal Engineers, housed a wide range of engineers and sappers during the First World War, and included practice trench construction as part of the training regime. The camp was opened in 1902 and closed at the end of the war in 1918, and saleable material from the camp was sold off in 1919. The training camp at Kingsbridge was one of many used across Britain to train the soldiers in the basic skills needed on the western front, including techniques of construction, daily routines, observation, communication and supply.

To the west of Tan y Coed a remarkably complete set of practice trenches associated with this camp were dug in woodland. These seem to consist of a front line down slope and service and access trenches running up slope behind it. It is not thought likely that offensive and defensive military tactics were taught at Tan y Coed. Other surviving examples are located at Penally in Pembrokeshire and Bodelwyddan in Flintshire, which are more extensive than the Tan y Coed examples, and more locally at Maes Du, Llandudno. The practice trenches provided low-cost training to the million volunteers and later conscripts who served in the British Army. They were also seen as a propaganda tool, showing the level of preparedness of the army. There must have been a certain amount of woodland clearance of the area to enable this work to be carried out, and the 1945 aerial photograph shows the woodland to be less dense than it is today. The vegetation has since regenerated considerably, and a significant amount of further archaeology may be obscured with scrubland.

Example of a trench system at Llandudno in 1918 (Anglesey Archives)

A further system of trenches was constructed within a field to the east of Tan y Coed. These have a deep line of access trenches from the rear service trenches and associated diggings to the front line. These are clearly shown on an RAF aerial photograph 1066/UK 655 3041, taken on 13 th August 1945 (shown below). No contemporary photographs of the trenches in the wooded area have yet been identified. It is likely that the two areas offered practice diggings in different topographic conditions, with the wooded ones on a considerable slope.

1945 aerial photograph of Tan y Coed trenches

Location of Tan y Coed Trenches

Cartoon of Sapper Bernard W Handley of Kingsbridge Camp (note trenching tools!)

Kingsbridge Camp in 1918 (image from a postcard)

Military Sports day at Kingsbridge Camp, Beaumaris

Practice Trench digging on Berkhampstead Common, March 1916


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