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Also in position along the escape route through "Harry" were experienced Canadian tunnellers Red Noble and Hank Birkland.
Initially in the infantry, William was later transferred to work as a tunneller after just nine months due to his Manchester roots.
Peter Duncan plays an expert tunneller in Birdsong, which portrays the horrors of a famous First World War battle
Then there are the moments of success, such as they are, as a mine offensive is unleashed under the enemy line that leads to, at least in the eyes of one anonymous tunneller, a glorious destruction.
Harry Burton was a compulsive tunneller and spent as much time underground as he did above.
How did a miner and tunneller in his thirties, working for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) on the Rodgers Pass tunnel in BC, end up on the front line?
Facing the prospect of another looming eviction, she is heartened by the arrival of an experienced and charismatic tunneller, Jake.
Steve McQueen wanted this included and the producers ignored the advice of Wally Floody, our Canadian chief tunneller, who served as an advisor on the film and who wanted accurate scenes, sticking to Paul Brickhill's (RAAF) account.
The next, he was involved in bloody battle in the trenches of the Somme, threatening to kill a tunneller who had fallen asleep on duty.
Here he meets tunneller Jack Firebrace, played by Warwickshire actor Joseph Mawle, and the two form an unlikely friendship.
Tomorrow night millions of viewers will see this grim existence in the BBC adaptation of Birdsong, the Sebastian Faulks novel which tells the story of an officer who fights alongside a tunneller at Messines.