The Secret Tunnels of South Heighton

The Tunnellers.  Before & After 2000.

This property was requisitioned for the Royal Engineers 172 Tunnelling Company No. 2 Section under the command of Major Lindsay Foss RE (a Canadian, who at the outbreak of war had been working in London as a Mining Engineer with Union Corporation) to serve as Company Headquarters and Officers' Mess for those engaged in the 1941 excavations at South Heighton and Newhaven Fort.

Captain WH Wilson RE & Lt Wm Wild RE at the rear of the RE 172 HQ in 1941.

This photograph was taken in Summer/Autumn of 1941 on the occasion of a Royal Engineers 172 Tunnelling Company Dance held in the Queen's Hall (the Old T.A. Drill Hall) in Broad Street, Seaford. The soldiers shown here were engaged in the excavation of the tunnels beneath South Heighton and at Newhaven Fort.

Little is known of these tireless Sappers who worked 8-hour gruelling shifts for weeks on end for just 2 shillings (10p in new money) per day plus army-style board and lodging; whilst their civilian counterparts earned ten times as much mining coal. They were not best pleased and expressed their feelings for posterity by means of graffiti on the tunnel walls.


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All illustrations and text on this site are 1941-2021 Geoffrey Ellis, or The Friends of HMS Forward, or Nick Catford.