I'll do my best to answer all of the questions that have been posed throughout this thread. The Time Team version was a shortened version of the longer programme entitled 'Breathing Fire' made by Canadian company Cream Productions. The longer version will be shown internationally in November on (I think) History Channel. I'll post details when I get them. As far as I know there are no plans to produce a DVD – Cream will have to wait and see how the longer version fares and then make a judgement.
The tube section really was found on the last day and it was (as the TV people love to say) a genuine race against time. The dig had run for three weeks which, unlike the formulaic usual Time Teams, gave plenty of time to excavate and catalogue sections of the front line system as well as the entrances to Sap 14. It was decided that with the finding of the projector tube plus the earlier finds of the valve and tools that the project could certainly be considered a success and only by greatly enlarging the hole could the further suspected pieces have been excavated. There simply wasn't the time, inclination or budget to do this. I have an idea of the budget and it was well funded – certainly vastly more so than you would normally get for a Time Team. However, the choice of extending it a few more days simply wasn't possible.
After the filming was finished the incline and other excavated sections were filled in and the 2ft or so of topsoil that had been stored in separate piles was spread back over the land. I was at the site last week with a client and there is no way of knowing what happened there in 1916, let alone last May.
Terry – I am yet to watch the programme but will do so once I have posted this. I am surprised at them saying it was used again in May 1917 – it was actually used at Dixmuide in October 1917. It appears that TT did some of their own narrative and this wasn't run past us, hence why they said it was used in May.
There were actually many more firings than that one alone in 1917. Two machines were put into High Wood for the 18 August attack but were damaged by British artillery. However, on 3 September four flammenwerfer were used in High Wood (also one used near Arrow Head Copse in front of Guillemont on the same day) and then on 9 September three were fired in High Wood (the one in Sap 5 having been damaged in the period 3-9 September). There was then a delay of over a year before a request was made by the Belgian forces for a flame projector to be brought up Dixmuide to fire a jet against the Germans.
We are planning to write a book on the British use and development of flamethrowers when time permits – perhaps in a couple of years? I have loads of details from my work for the project but there is much still to do. I was at Toutencourt the other day where they were based and it felt strange after reading so much about the place and the test firings in the wood.
For those visiting the Somme between June and December who are interested then I would wholeheartedly recommend the forthcoming exhibition at the Historial in Peronne which will feature loads more information, images, drawings and maps along with the machine parts recovered from the dig plus a remarkable full-size replica made by students in French technical colleges. We met the man in charge of this yesterday and it is terrific what he has achieved. See the Historial page for details plus a good CGI film of the machine. http://www.historial...ves=webmaster.
The 'monitor' or head of the modern RE recreation will also be on dispay too with (we hope) sections of the film.
All of the basic information about the Livens Flame Projectors including maps, photos and line drawings was included in the 2006 version of our panorama book 'The Somme – a new panoramic perspective'. We have added some new stuff into the 2011 reprint – see 'The Somme – the unseen panoramas
I wrote a piece on my site about the evolution of the project plus images and location maps which may explain some of the queries. See "The Time Team Special dig at Mametz – the evolution and structure of the project behind the search for the Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector
Peter and I were on the Somme yesterday for meetings and so missed the transmission as we didn't get back into the UK until ten past nine but had the rather bizarre experience of my following #timeteam updates on Twitter on my phone. It's a very strange way to gauge reaction!
P.S. Just seen the last few posts – following a successful firing the machine would normally be taken apart by its crew and then carried back in pieces by an infantry carrying party. The one at the site at Mametz was carried up by a party of the Devons (8th
Battalion). The sheer physical endeavour of the entire process of trench warfare; digging, revetting, fixing and repairing duckboards, filling sandbags etc. plus the physical slog of carrying parties was something that I really picked up whilst on site. I was shattered at the end of each day and we all concluded that 'they don't make them like they used to' when it came to lower backs as the majority of us were aching and could only marvel once again at that generation and what the men actually did (and that is not even including the fighting).
The museum exhibition is the initial place to go for more information and, hopefully, in due course we will produce a book on the subject.