At the end of the Great War, nearly two million soldiers were missing, presumed dead. Almost 90 years later, the bloody battlegrounds of France and Belgium are surrendering their secrets. A team of archaeologists, historians and forensic experts is working to identify unknown soldiers and finally lay them to rest.
The Trench Detectives is a documentary series that follows the work of this team as it moves through time and across the battlefields of France and Belgium, releasing the fallen and their stories of courage and sacrifice from the mud of the First World War battles in which they fought and died. Each episode focuses on an archaeological dig at the site of a single significant battle of the Great War. Objects and evidence found there are traced back, through painstaking detective work, to a soldier or soldiers whose personal story can then be told.
In the First World War, men on horseback with swords fight against an emerging modern weapon, the machine gun. In Northern France, on the site of a cavalry charge into the face of relentless machine gun fire, the Trench Detectives discover evidence of a desperate act of bravery that stopped the German advance in the Spring of 1918, but decimated the ranks of a Canadian cavalry unit. It was the last great cavalry charge of the First World War, and it was made by Canadian soldiers.
In the second episode, the Trench Detectives discover the shattered remnants of a tank in French woodlands and try to trace its identity.
In the third episode, experts hope that a pair of matching wedding rings, found on an unknown soldier that fell on the Western Front in 1915, will help them identify the body.
In this episode, the team trace the history of a Canadian orphan.
The Trench Detectives dig into the past of a picturesque French hunting lodge, which was a silent witness to the war, to reveal its troubled history.
In this episode, the Trench Detectives attempt to discover what happened to a signaller who was stationed near a village in Belgium.
The Trench Detectives uncover the story of a civilian gravedigger serving on the Western Front, whose greatest fear was being buried alive.