Finding the Fallen

Thursday, December 11
9:00 pm ET/PT

September 1915 saw the first massive Allied attack on the German positions at Loos, Belgium. The battle also marked the largest deployment of Scottish troops in nearly 200 years and was the first taste of action for men of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. In a moving excavation, the Trench Detectives recover the body of one of those Scottish soldiers, his shoulder badge identifying him as a Highlander. A leather pouch, at first believed to be his Sporran, holds the key to this man’s identity. Lab analysis reveals it as a kit of specialized equipment issued to specific men to perform a specific task. If his identity can be tracked down, this soldier can finally be laid to rest.

Thursday, December 4
9:00 pm ET/PT

This is a story of hunters and the hunted. During the Great War, German officers weary from the Eastern Front sought R&R in a picturesque hunting lodge on an ancient French estate where they could turn their guns on wildlife.  The estate was owned by a French nobleman and his hunting lodge became a silent witness to the war, constantly occupied and passed from French to British and Commonwealth to German forces before being reclaimed by nature.  A diary is discovered – a day-to-day account of the aristocratic owner’s life as a German hostage. And among the rubble of the lodge the Trench Detectives excavate a large stone block on which a German occupier had carved his name, an inscription that survived to lead back to identify the man who left it. 

(Thursday, November 27
9:00 pm ET/PT

In a war when so many dead were lost or simply dumped into shallow graves, the Trench Detectives come across a body buried with care on a battlefield where tens of thousands of soldiers died in 1915.  As forensic scientists struggle to decipher the engravings on the soldier’s corroded ID tag, another team of experts tease apart a leather pouch the man was carrying.  In it are three rings: A pair of matching rings each inscribed with a surname and a date and a third ring that bears the Iron Cross …..keepsakes with meaning for this fallen soldier. An intensive investigation with many twists and turns finally yields the identity of the Fallen, bringing the trench detectives face to face with his descendants.

Thursday, November 20
9:00 pm ET/PT

In 1916, Canadian soldiers suffer more than 24,000 casualties during the Somme Campaign. and were tasked with assaulting the fiercely defended German position known as “Regina Trench”. The Trench Detectives excavate, uncovering a treasure trove of artifacts, including a German mess tin with a name scratched repeatedly on its sides. The team identifies its owner. Remarkably, before the war he was a miner and a grave digger—famous in his family for a morbid fear of being buried alive and an obsession with putting his name on all his personal belongings.

Wednesday, November 12
9:00 pm ET/PT

The ‘landship’ was a fearsome modern weapon that stunned Germany in the Great War.  The British creation of The Tank was the fulfillment of a dream. Manufactured in secrecy in England, the tanks rolled out to battle on the Western Front.  In peaceful French woods, close to the site of the first effective tank battle, the Trench Detectives discover the shattered remnants of a tank. It had been destroyed in November 1917 at the Battle of Cambrai. The team traces its identity—it’s a tank known by the serial number “F6”. What emerges is the life story of a metal beast from its birth to its death in battle, alongside the story of the man who commanded her.

Wednesday, November 12
8:00 ET/PT

A mystery is uncovered in a once beautiful Belgian village that played a critical role in the final days of the First World War.  A section of trench is unearthed that is not referenced on any military map from the era. And within the trench is a collection of finds: a British Officer’s pair of leather gloves pulled off in a hurry and left inside out; a white silk scarf; a used ampoule of iodine; and an unusual ‘binder’ of canvas and bamboo.  The binder is revealed to be a rare Allied Signaller’s kit for sending coded messages back to his gun battery.  The trench is identified as a secret forward observation post. Our Trench Detectives’ mission is to find out what befell the Signaller who was stationed there. When they do, they stumble across one of the great lost stories of the War: the biggest explosion ever to rock London, England.

Tuesday, November 11
9:00 pm ET/PT

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. As the poignant relationship between these men and their horses is explored, a French farmer reveals a mystery that lead the team to a car dealer in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta whose ancestor died on that fateful day and whose last resting place was, until now, unknown to him.

Tuesday, November 11
8:00 pm ET/PT

An excavations yields evidence of WW1 mortar bombs.  Its position reveals it is a ‘trench mortar pit’, key to the Allied taking of “Hill 70”, a strategic position in Northern France in the summer of 1917.  The Trench Detectives begin a search for the tight-knit band of brothers who fought there, revealing the name of a Canadian soldier who lead the group into battle.  As the Trench Detectives close in on how he came to be there, they uncover the moving, Dickensian story of a “Barnardo Boy”. The soldier was the eldest of three English orphans rescued from the crushing slums of a Northern steel town in Britain and shipped to Canada where the children were sent their separate ways. None were told where the others were but all were bound by a strong desire to reunite.

Tuesday, November 11 at 8:00 pm ET/PT

– CSI Meets Cold Case to Solve 90 year-old Wartime Mysteries –

Almost every Canadian city, town and village has a monument to those who sacrificed their lives in the war known as “The War To End All Wars” – the terrible Great War that raged in Europe from 1914-1918. But, with the passing of time and the deaths of almost all surviving veterans, the human, living stories of this war have all but vanished.

This Remembrance Day, November 11, marks the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War, and History Television is commemorating the occasion with a remarkable new documentary series of eight hourlong episodes called FINDING THE FALLEN, premiering Tuesday, November 11 at 8:00 pm ET/PT.

In the series, the bloody WWI battlefields of France and Belgium surrender their long-held secrets when a team of “Trench Detectives” – archaeologists, forensics experts, historians and genealogists – excavate the past, a shovelful at a time, unearthing both the history and the personal stories that have remained buried for 90 years.

Produced by yap films, the award-winning TV production company with offices in Toronto and Leeds, UK., FINDING THE FALLEN brings history to life with previously unknown and touchingly human stories of The Great War.

The Trench Detectives, headed by lead archaeologist David Kenyon and lead historian Andrew Robertshaw, work to identify the unknown soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice, and to reconstruct their remarkable life stories, both leading up to and during the war. In doing so, the team preserves the memories of the shattered lives that ended there and are able to finally lay these brave fallen ones to rest.

This is contemporary archaeology writ large. Its purpose: to remember the past, lest we forget. Its aim: to identify and honour those who gave their lives in The Great War.

Episodes One: “Barnardo Boy” and Episode Two: “Man and Horse”, airing across Canada on Tuesday, November 11 at 8:00 pm ET/PT and 9:00 pm ET/PT respectively, each tell the story of a Canadian soldier who fell on the battlefields of Europe. The series continues the following evening, Wednesday, November 12, with Episodes Three: “Secret Trench” and Episode Four: “Codename: Tank” in the same time slots.