Using “Geofizz”

Hi-tech history man unearths wartime ‘town’

Ninety years after one the bloodiest battles of the 20th century, the freelance underground investigator has enabled historians to open up an underground ‘town’ that protected British troops from the Germans during four years of fighting near the Belgium town of Ypres.

Mr Weale, from East Harling, near Thetford, who runs Geofizz Ltd, used his complex search equipment to locate a labyrinth of tunnels known as Vampir Dugout 11ft under clay fields in Zonnebeke, which housed an army brigade headquarters and up to 50 soldiers.

Archaeologists and historians hope eventually to explore the flooded tunnels, which were held by the allies until the 1918 German offensive but recaptured by the British after the war.

The subterranean complex should reveal perfectly preserved beds, weapons, helmets, clothing and even newspapers from an area which suffered the worst carnage and 500,000 deaths during the first world war. The tunnels are also set to be featured in a special Channel 4 Time Team programme.

The investigation comes four years after Mr Weale, who worked in sales at Venus Bridal in Norwich, turned a hobby into a business after he conducted his first geophysical survey live on television to find the wreckage of a second world war aircraft under a road near Buckingham Palace.

He has since had commissions from across the globe, including finding a Viking long ship under a pub’s beer garden in the Wirral, looking for Native American Indian remains in Arizona, a Nazi bunker in the Czech Republic, a Knights Templar cave in Royston and searching for a missing Van Gogh painting in Antwerp, Belgium.

Closer to home, his Geofizz equipment, which uses electro magnetic pulses to create detailed maps of up to 25 metres under the earth’s surface, helped uncover the remains of a Mosquito aircraft and other wartime artefacts buried at the end of RAF Coltishall’s runway.

He is currently working on finding other items hidden after the second world war in Norfolk, such as a B17 bomber near Snetterton racetrack and a consignment of Harley Davidson motorbikes near his home in Harling.

Mr Weale, who runs a website selling the hi-tech equipment costing £5,000-£20,000 to universities, museum services, governments, private investigators and television companies, said programmes like Time Team had created new public interest in archaeology and underground detecting.

Last year Mr Weale helped Glasgow University professors find a mass grave of up to 400 British and Australian soldiers killed in northern France in the first world war.

“I’m really interested in the first and second world war stuff. It is amazing that you can go to a large field with a few crops and find a small complex of underground tunnels and rooms deep in the ground.

“I prefer the technological side of archaeology rather than the digging up. Recording what is under the ground is much cheaper than excavation and preservation,” he said.

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