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"He also asked that new units be recruited from the class of 1915, which need not be trained in the full range of field engineering, but only in sapping and mining." (from Underground Warfare 1914-1918 by Simon Jones (p.36)
Both sides were unprepared for the type of war that would develop. Little training had been given to sapping and mining in the years prior to the Great War, is was assumed that it would be a war of mobility. It quickly became apparent that the old skills would still be needed, and by the end of the war they would be greatly refined and many new developments in underground warfare would take place. French General Foch realized the need for sappers and made this request regarding the class of 1915.