DESCEND INTO A HIDDEN WORLD IN SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL'S(TM)
"AMERICANS UNDERGROUND: SECRET CITY OF WWI"
CHANNEL COMMEMORATES 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF WWI WITH NEW SPECIAL ON MARCH 13 AT 8 PM ET/PT
NEW YORK - February 22, 2017 - 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(TM) 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."
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.
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.
A large selection of Gusky's photos of the stone carvings will be on display in the exhibition "Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War," at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, which opens April 6. This is a collaborative exhibition with the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
"Americans Underground: Secret City of WWI" is produced by Lone Wolf Media for Smithsonian Networks. The director and executive producer for Lone Wolf is Kirk Wolfinger, and Jeff Gusky and Jonathan Wickham produced. Charles Poe and David Royle are executive producers for Smithsonian Channel.
Smithsonian Channel(TM), owned by Smithsonian Networks(TM), a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. This is the place for awe-inspiring stories, powerful documentaries and amazing entertainment across multiple platforms. Smithsonian Channel combines the storytelling prowess of SHOWTIME(R) with the unmatched resources and rich traditions of the Smithsonian, to create award-winning programming that shines new light on popular genres such as air and space, history, science, nature, and pop culture. Among the network's offerings are series including Aerial America, Million Dollar American Princesses, Polar Bear Town, The Weapon Hunter, The Lost Tapes, Mighty Ships, Mighty Planes and Air Disasters, as well as critically-acclaimed specials that include Building Star Trek; The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima; MLK: The Assassination Tapes; and The Day Kennedy Died. Smithsonian Networks also operates Smithsonian Earth(TM), through SN Digital LLC., a new subscription video streaming service delivering spectacular original nature and wildlife content. To learn more, go to www.smithsonianchannel.com, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.