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Voted Best History and Non Fiction Book Holyer An Gof  awards 2016


I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, interesting, informative and so well written. I could visualise the scene as I turned page after page.


I have read it and found it absolutely fascinating 


Absolutely gripping. My grandfather Capt JW Walker MC & Bar joined up with the 251st in July 1916 and was wounded on 18 April 1918. Some of the stories he told me as a little boy popped out the pages and I can now make more sense of the fading letters that he received in hospital. Congratulations to Robert Johns.

JW Amazon

A fascinating insight into the lives of miners and infantry during the First World War. You can feel that this book has been lovingly and respectfully researched, the amount of attention to detail is astounding. Written in such a clear way you begin to sense and feel the environment our troops had to endure. Covering in depth from the formation to disbandment of the regiment, the book also brought home to me the hardships of the families left behind.I am grateful to the author for bringing the ingenuity and bravery of these men to life for me. One and All.

AN Amazon


An excellent book. My immediate response, before I had read a word was the simplicity, clarity and relevance of the maps, all cross referenced in the text, the extensive range of quality photographs matched to and positioned by the text. I have read several books on the history of World War 1 mining. Yours, refreshingly, concentrated on the well researched events of the 251st and its people. The appendices were each a well researched book in their own right. You should be proud of your efforts.

RG Amazon


This is a fascinating book about the real lives of Tunnellers on the Western Front. It concentrates on the Cornishmen of the 251st Tunnelling Company and their remarkable achievements, but is told in such a way that makes it extremely interesting to read, irrespective of whether your interests lie in military mining, or local Cornish history. It is different to others in that it follows the Company from its formation to its disbandment, but from a soldiers perspective. It has obviously been very well researched, and is packed full of good information.

G Amazon


A most informative and well researched book. The writing style made it a pleasure to read and was so vivid I could almost smell and feel the dank air of the life these brave men led.

T Amazon


Bought for neighbour who is finding it fascinating as fellow Cornishman

CP Amazon


Fascinating book and well written

L Amazon


This is a brilliant book about an overlooked aspect of the war. Well researched and a must read, especially for those interested in the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry.

JW Amazon


'This book is well researched and Mr Johns tells of his visits to the tunnels which still exist...'

Western Morning News


'Mr Johns... tells some wonderful stories of the men who served...'

Cornish Guardian


'... fascinating story of these brave men.'

Cornwall Today


'Well researched... wonderful stories of the men who served...'

West Briton


A fascinating and well written book.

WW1 Centenary


'A worthy addition to any Cornish library, the book is well researched...'
' He tells some wonderful stories of the men who served...'

Western Morning News


What a fantastic book



A well written account of one of the specialist tunnelling companies of the Royal Engineers; the 'Cornish Miners Battalion', who put themselves at risk every day by burrowing beneath the earth on the Western Front to undermine the enemy's positions. This is a vivid and well researched unit history of men who were recruited from the tin mines of Cornwall to play their part below the trenches and no-man's-land, often in appalling conditions, as they sought to give an advantage to their infantry brothers fighting above them.

Highly recommended.


The Great War Magazine

This book tells the story of the Cornish Miners who were recruited to fight a new underground war deep below the trenches. The book contains many illustrations, mostly photographic, and original, to support the readable text. A good combination that holds the readers attention and graphically describes the tense and terrifying war below ground where miners and counter miners fought hand to hand in near total darkness, or exploded a counter charge entombing the enemy. Even for men used to working deep beneath ground and sea to extract tin and other mined materials, this was nerve-wracking work. A valuable and well-researched book that provides a unique insight into a much under-reported form of combat.

FIRE project

The brown cover of the book with the photos on the front and back give a good indication of the contents. This book should appeal to a varied readership. Not only those interested in family and local Cornish history but also mining techniques and living conditions in the trenches. The book would also suit any reader with a general interest in the First World War. The book is easy to read and includes maps with reference to them in the text for the convenience of the reader. There is an index, bibliography and comprehensive appendices with names of officers, men and honours won.

Friends of the National Archives

A fantastic readable and so interesting


This new book provides yet another perspective and does so with warmth, affection, sensitivity and completeness. The author has done a very good job on the platform of through research. Essential reading for all WWI buffs but will appeal to a wider readership.


Superbly written and very readable




I found the book fascinating


Your book was excellent


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