Descend into a Hidden World in Smithsonian Channel's "Americans Underground: Secret City of WWI"

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08 March 2017
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Americans Underground
Courtesy of Smithsonian Channel
"Americans Underground: Secret City of WWI"
Monday, March 13 at 8 PM ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel
 
          Texas trauma surgeon Jeff Gusky has revealed an underground city and hidden world beneath a French wheat field. Also an explorer and photographer, Gusky has uncovered extraordinary carvings that bring to light new information about the American soldiers who took refuge there during World War I. The Americans left their names on the ancient limestone walls in hundreds of inscriptions and images: in some cases revealing their identities, where they came from, and ultimately their fate. On the 100th anniversary of WWI, Smithsonian Channel™ exclusively reveals never-before-seen photos and shocking discoveries about these soldiers in the one-hour special “AMERICANS UNDERGROUND: SECRET CITY OF WWI,” premiering on Monday, March 13, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.  
 
          “It’s like a shipwrecked person who wants someone to know that they once lived, and so they put a note in a bottle and decades after that shipwrecked person is gone from earth, it washes up on shore and someone finds it,” Gusky says in the film. “It’s totally raw, it’s untouched. It’s unfiltered.”
 
Americans Underground
Courtesy of Smithsonian Channel
          This riveting hour-long film follows Houston ER surgeon Gusky on his mission to identify these forgotten soldiers. It’s a journey that takes him from the underground caves and battlefields of France back to New England, where he tracks down some of the descendants of the soldiers whose names he discovered on the walls.
 
          With help from military experts and historians, Gusky traces the etchings back to soldiers from the Yankee Division, an American unit from New England that was among the first to arrive in France. As Gusky continues to unlock the many mysteries hidden in this underground city for a century, he discovers intriguing American Indian images and symbols.  They lead him to a remarkable story about the Passamaquoddy Indian Tribe from Maine. Members of this tribe fought and even died for America long before they were granted the rights of full citizenship.

 
 Americans Underground
Courtesy of Smithsonian Channel
 
          Gusky has been documenting and photographing the caves in Northern France for some years, discovering clues about the lives of the soldiers who fought there. Originally the caves were limestone quarries providing the stone that built the great castles and cathedrals of the Middle Ages.  Many happen to lie close to where some of the original trenches of the Western Front were dug across Northern France. What Gusky found inside one was an underground city — complete with railcars and electricity.  Painstakingly carved on its limestone walls are the elaborate carvings left by soldiers who were once billeted there, many of whom were American. 
 

 
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