'Ten seconds, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one - fire! Down goes the firing switch. At first, nothing. Then from deep down there comes a low rumble, and it as if the world is spliting apart...'
On 7th June 1917, nineteen massive mines exploded beneath Messines Ridge near Ypres. The largest man-made explosion in history up until that point shattered the landscape and smashed open the German lines. Ten thousand German soldiers died.
Two of the mines - at Hill 60 and the Caterpillar - were fired by men of the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company, comprising miners and engineers rather than parade-ground soldiers. Drawing on the diaries of one of the key combatants, Benealth Hill 60 tells the little-known, devastatingly brutal true story of this subterranean war waged beneath the Western Front - a stygian battle-ground where men drowned in viscous chalk, suffocated in the blue gray clay, choked on poisonous air or died in the darkness, caught up up in vicious hand-to-hand fighting...