An American Expeditionary Force was dispatched to France to team with British and French forces in 1918. While they were holed up, seeking refuge from the Germans, they filled eight miles of winding tunnels with intricate insignias carved into their walls. These engraving from World War I have recently been re-discovered and photographed for the world to see.
Buried TreasureMarc Askat- 442 Explorations, Media Drum World.com
Amateur explorer, 31-year-old Marc Askat, has relished in scouring through these tunnels for quite some time now. He has a series of photographs documenting his multiple visits, but his most recent discovery are these etchings.
Yankee EtchingsMarc Askat- 442 Explorations, Media Drum World.com
Askat's discoveries are the creations of the United States Army’s 26th Infantry Division. They carved over 250 designs throughout the tunnels.
“After a long crawl underground, I was lucky enough to see a giant Bald Eagle blaze sculpted by the 26th Yankee Division... was in front of me,” Askat told the Telegraph UK.
Boston's 26th Infantry DivisionDaily Mail
They were the second division the U.S. deployed in efforts to intervene during WWI. All the recruits in the 26th Infantry Division were from New England, which is why they were nicknamed “Yankees."
The German AssaultMarc Askat- 442 Explorations, Media Drum World.com
The 26th infantry division received six military honors after 210 days of combat with the Germans raining down on them. They suffered a total loss of 587 Yankees, with 12,077 wounded. The survivors returned to the United States on May 3, 1919.
Tucked Away Tunnels And Hidden DangersMarc Askat- 442 Explorations, Media Drum World.com
The entrance into the tunnels are actually located fairly deep in the forests of Northern France and there are no indications of its existence on any maps. It's probably a good thing that this location wasn't widely known, it isn't the safest area. Even the trees have unblown ammunition wrapped in their roots.
Haunting MemorabiliaMarc Askat- 442 Explorations, Media Drum World.com
The tunnels are rich with historical relics. Ammunition, grenades, and mustard gas bottles litter the grounds, as if the owners of these objects will be back any second to retrieve them.
Faces Of The PastMarc Askat- 442 Explorations, Media Drum World.com
The identities of most of the historical figures in the portraits are still unknown. There is so much left to uncover deeper in these tunnels and so much left to decode of what has been unearthed already.
A Window Into HistoryMarc Askat- 442 Explorations, Media Drum World.com
Masonic engravings, military insignias, names, dates, and portraits cover the walls and pillars of this stone quarry that served as a refuge for these war heroes.
Everything has remained preserved for the most part. Many hope it will be converted into a museum. These tunnels provide a peek into an important part of history and out of respect for those who fought and died here, it should be maintained.
Resealing SecretsMarc Askat- 442 Explorations, Media Drum World.com
As for what the future holds for this underground treasure trove, an iron door sealing its entrance is all that's currently in the works. The site is highly dangerous and prior to making it available for public exploration, a long and costly de-mining mission would have to take place.
Forbidden And Forgotten PlacesMarc Askat- 442 Explorations, Media Drum World.com
When asked about his discovery not being made open to the public, Mark Askat told the Daily Mail, "This is why I took the pictures of this place, and moreover, why I am exploring in general. I want people to see forbidden or forgotten places. That's a way for them to exist in people's memory even if they disappear."