Photo gallery and video: Norwich brothers dig First World War trench in their back garden

Norwich brothers Ethan and Reuben Harvey who have dug a WW1 trench in their back garden as well as having a radio room, guard post and barbed wire barricades.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Norwich brothers Ethan and Reuben Harvey who have dug a WW1 trench in their back garden as well as having a radio room, guard post and barbed wire barricades. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Archant Norfolk.

Brothers Ethan and Reuben Harvey have gone that extra mile to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War - by digging a trench in their back garden and staging mock battles.

The boys dress up in First World War period costume and go ‘over the top’ and also have a collection of memorabilia in the attic bedroom of their home in Heartsease Lane, Norwich.

Their garden also boasts a look-out tower, fake tank traps, a pillbox, a sentry box - and even a tunnel.

Their next mission is to recreate a vintage pub at a summer house in the garden - from the Second World War, this time.

The youngsters, who will both be attending Open Academy in Norwich from September, invite their friends to play in the garden, and even managed to get their history teacher to take a look in the trench, which is about 8ft long and 4ft deep.

Ethan, 14, said: “The idea came after we went to a military event a couple of years ago, at Muckleburgh. They had a trench there, with sand bags in it. We thought that looked good. And with the First World War centenary coming up, we thought it would be good to create something like that in our garden.”

Further back, the seed may have been planted by their late grandfather, Robert Grand, a history buff.

Reuben, 11, said: “He was into the Zulu war and we used to watch the film Zulu at his house. We took it from there.”

He added: “The crosses in the garden were made of old beams of wood and are tank traps that would have been used on the Western Front towards the end of the war. And we put some fake barbed wire round them.”

They also have a pill-box to look out of, and Ethan added: “We’ve also paid tribute to the miners, who used to build tunnels on the Western Front during the First World War, so we’ve got a tunnel. The tower was made by our granddad about 10 years ago.”

Ethan said they had installed the features because they “wanted to commemorate what happened 100 years ago”.

Their next mission is to re-create a 1940s pub in the garden.

Ethan added: “We have collected all the stuff. We get bits and bobs through donations. The uniform I wear was given to me at an event by an old gentleman who had no-one else to give it to.”

The boys’ father Richard, 48, an engineer, said: “They don’t want to go in the army or join up. They are genuinely interested in the history side of it. They are history boys. I have learned a lot from them and they teach me something every day.

“Ethan has just come back from a school trip to France and he was sitting up front with the teacher on the coach, telling the kids about the history of the area and all the dates.”

Mother Joanne Harvey, 41, added: “My dad loved the old black and white war movies and a lot of this has come from him. They are genuinely passionate about history.”

Have your children taken on any unusual projects? Let us know. Email


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