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Groundwater as a military resource: Development of Royal Engineers Boring Sections and British military hydrogeology in World War II

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Abstract

To drill boreholes for water supply, the Royal Engineers raised ten 'Boring Sections' between September 1939 and May 1943, eight in the UK, two in Egypt. While supporting campaigns in World War II, two deployed briefly to France, seven served widely within the Middle East (one of these in Iraq and Iran and later Malta, the others mostly operating from Egypt), one deployed to Algeria/Tunisia, four to Sicily and/or Italy (one of these onward to Greece), two deployed to support the D-Day Allied landings in Normandy and the subsequent advance via Belgium to Germany, and three served long-term in the UK. Greatest use was by Middle East Command, which at its peak had about 35 officers, 750 men and 40 drilling rigs assigned to water supply, and whose boreholes attained a cumulative length of some 40 km. The British Army used geology to help guide emplacement of boreholes in all these regions. Innovations included groundwater prospect maps at scales of 1:50 000 and 1:250 000, to help planning for the Allied invasion of Normandy and the subsequent campaign in NW Europe. Geology also helped guide groundwater abstraction by Indian Engineers in the Far East, and British/South African troops in East Africa.

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... However, geological guidance for tunnelling activities had been available from BEF General Headquarters in much the same way in both wars. The first of the three geologists to serve at BEF General Headquarters in World War I, Lieutenant (later Captain) W.B.R. ('Bill') King, had been appointed ten days after the onset of World War II to serve (as a local major) in essentially the same role and place within the new BEF (Rose & Rosenbaum 1993;Rose 2012b). 1st Tunnelling Engineers in the UK, 1940-43 ...
... The need to enhance the water supply, however, prompted six weeks of fieldwork by the Director of the Geological Survey of Great Britain (E.B. Bailey), who arrived from the UK via Gibraltar on 8 February 1943 (Morris 1952;Rose 2012b). In addition, there were visits in April, May and June 1943 by two geologists from General Headquarters of Middle East Command in Cairo, Egypt: the Geologist Staff Officer Captain F.W. Shotton ...
... Near-contemporary geological sketch map of Belgium and northern France, including the region contested by the British Expeditionary Force in World War I and similarly occupied by the British Expeditionary Force in World War II; seeRose (2012b). ...
Article
170 Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers left England in January 1940 to excavate bomb-proof military headquarters in northern France. Expansion into companies 170, 171, 172 and 173 was delayed when the British Expeditionary Force was defeated and evacuated, but completed in England in July to excavate accommodation underground for regional headquarters and artillery batteries - mostly in Cretaceous chalk. Companies 178, 179 and 180 formed in England in May-June 1940, and 178 and 180 soon deployed to Gibraltar, joined by 170 in 1941 and successively by 1st and 2nd Tunnelling Companies Royal Canadian Engineers. They excavated a major complex of tunnels and chambers within Jurassic dolomitic limestone by October 1943 to help fortify the rocky peninsula, work completed by a single company (172) thereafter. Companies 183, 184 and 185 joined 179 in 1941 to emplace 'Canadian pipe mines' to inhibit the invasion of Britain. 173 served in Malta 1941-43, and 171 during 1943-45, excavating >50 bomb-proof facilities in Oligo-Miocene limestones, plus works to enhance the civilian water supply. By late 1943, all companies except 172 (Gibraltar) and 171 (Malta) were based in Britain. At least five were converted for general engineering use and no longer needed geological assistance.
... Features of the Atlantic Wall have also attracted much detailed description (e.g. by Kaufmann et al. 2012). Geological aspects have been less frequently described, but do form the focus of accounts by Rose and Rosenbaum (1993), Rose and Pareyn (1995, 2003, Rose et al. (2006Rose et al. ( , 2010, Robins et al. (2007), Rose and Clatworthy (2008a), Rose (2008aRose ( , 2012aRose ( , b, 2019aRose ( , b, c, 2020a and Couëffé et al. (2014). Only those details most useful for comparison and contrast with the Channel Islands are therefore noted here. ...
... The British Army during World War II assigned a few volunteers or conscripts trained in geology for service with Boring Sections Royal Engineers (to drill wells for groundwater abstraction) or Tunnelling Companies Royal Engineers (to excavate underground facilities safe from aerial or artillery bombardment) in the expectation that their expertise might be of relevant use (Rose 2012a(Rose , 2019d. They were not, however, appointed to serve professionally as geologists. ...
... 'Mac' Macfadyen was a veteran infantry officer of World War I who had developed a distinguished career as a hydrogeologist between the wars (Rose 2012a). He volunteered to serve as an officer within Boring Sections Royal Engineers early in World War II, and from this role was re-assigned in July 1943 to the Works Directorate at Allied Forces Headquarters for NW Africa and the Mediterranean region (based first in Algiers, later in Italy), as a geologist staff officer (Rose 2020b), thus becoming the fourth to be appointed as such. ...
Chapter
Compared with the Normandy coast that was subject to Allied assault on D-Day, 6 June 1944, the Channel Islands were even more intensively fortified. A similar amphibious and/or aerial assault on the Islands would also have proved very costly in terms of casualties. Compared with the British fortress of Gibraltar at the western entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, the Islands are very different in size, geology and strategic position. However, similarities in the wartime use of geology and geologists (to guide assessment of potable groundwater resources, and assist tunnelling and quarrying) indicate problems common to the construction of fortified outposts, irrespective of place or nationality. Compared with use of geologists by British forces in general, the British (initially fighting defensively on their own or Allied terrain) made far less use of military geologists than the Germans, who were organized for attack and occupation. British use increased only from 1943, mostly for terrain analysis, as Allied forces moved increasingly from defence to counter-attack. Compared with the use of geologists by the armed forces of the USA, between 1942 and 1945 American forces overall used significantly more geologists than the British, albeit still far fewer than the Germans. However, American military geologists were mostly (although not exclusively) civilians who generated maps and reports for terrain analysis from a centre in the USA, in Washington DC, remote from the theatres of operation. The Channel Islands thus provide a detailed case history illustrating the typically more intensive use of military geologists in wartime by German forces relative to those of the Allies. Lessons learnt by the opposing sides in World War II were to provide the basis for developments in military geology postwar, and wide international recognition of the continuing significance of ‘military geoscience’.
... The United Kingdom declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939; a new British Expeditionary Force began moving to France on 4 September; and 'Bill' King was called up to join it on 10 September -the same man thus being deployed to the same region to fill the same role as in World War I, albeit now as a captain (later major) in the Royal Engineers (Rose, 2012b). However, the Force was defeated in May/June 1940, and compelled mostly to evacuate from the French coast at or near Dunkirk. ...
... As in Italy (Rose, 2020b), adequate and secure supplies of potable water were considered to be essential for operational success, Boring Sections Royal Engineers were deployed to drill new wells to abstract groundwater, and groundwater prospect maps were prepared by military geologists to guide the effective deployment of these Sections. However, unlike Italy, thematic maps were prepared at relatively detailed scale (1:50,000) as well as at 1:250,000; as black/white tracing overlays to be used with standard topographical maps rather than as coloured overprints made directly onto topographical base maps; and for the guidance of only two, rather than four, Boring Sections (Robins et al., 2007;Rose et al., 2010;Rose, 2012b). ...
... Each Section comprised three officers and about 90 other ranks, and could deploy as detachments to operate four percussion drilling rigs, two rotary rigs and an earth auger. In Normandy the two units were in total to drill over 30 wells for potable water, plus numerous sullage holes for disposal of waste water, and shot holes to assist quarrying, before following the Allied combat troops as they advanced eastwards (Rose, 2012b). ...
... Thereafter, he taught first in the University of Cambridge, then as a professor and head of department in the University of London. His experience thus potentially influenced cohorts of geology students prior to World War II, notably his protégé F.W. Shotton, and provided the basis for his distinguished service in World War II (Rose 2012). Arthur Beeby Thompson (1924Thompson ( , 1926 also placed his wartime data and the lessons he had learned in the public domain. ...
... Although the number of hydrogeologists used by the British Army was far smaller than the number employed by the German Army at this time (Rose et al. 2000;Willig & Häusler 2012), hydrogeology in military use during World War I was an innovation for the British Army, was significant in contributing to the water supply infrastructure that underpinned final victory in at least three major theatres of war, and was an influence on the postwar development of hydrogeology in the UK. The experience gained by the British Army of the techniques and operational value of well drilling and of the value of a hydrogeologist staff officer during World War I provided the basis on which both well drillers and geologists were re-activated immediately at the start of World War II (Rose 2012). It also helped to stimulate the manufacture of 'portable' drilling rigs in the UK, notably by the English Drilling Equipment Company (Anon. ...
... To some extent the experience was carried forward by demobilized soldiers into well drilling or geological careers. Directly or indirectly, their expertise proved to be of great value in World War II (Rose 2012). ...
Article
The first British Army hydrogeologist to be deployed as such on a battlefield was Lieutenant W.B.R. King, in June 1915 on the Western Front. There, the British Expeditionary Force, in Belgium and northern France, expanded at its peak to five armies: 1.5 million men and 0.5 million horses/mules, each man/animal requiring on average 10 gallons (45 l) per day of potable water. A 'Water Boring Section Royal Engineers' was eventually raised for each army, equipped with American-made 'portable' drilling rigs, and utilizing air-lift pumps. These innovations and King's pioneering 'water supply' maps facilitated the development of the British Army's first operational ability to exploit groundwater from deep aquifers, primarily those in Cretaceous Chalk, by drilling >470 boreholes. Additionally, in 1915, a report by three 'British' Geological Survey officers helped guide limited boring within Allied amphibious landing areas on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. A civilian water adviser, Arthur Beeby Thompson, transferred from Gallipoli to the Balkans in January 1916 and thereafter used geology to guide significant groundwater abstraction by siting 125 military boreholes and 211 Norton tube wells. From 1915, the Director of the Geological Survey of Egypt, W.F. Hume, provided similar guidance for campaigns from Egypt into Palestine.
... On 13 June 1941 Macfadyen was assigned to No. 2 Boring Section Royal Engineers, at that time drilling wells for water in the United Kingdom (Rose, 2012). He was still serving with the Section when it sailed from the United Kingdom on 24 February 1943, to arrive in North Africa at the port of Algiers on 5 March 1943. ...
... Rivers and lakes are shown in blue, and the superficial deposits of the River Po valley (blank on map) are revealed as a major feature of northern Italy. From Rose & Clatworthy (2007a) and Rose (2012); reproduced by permission of the Royal Engineers Museum, Library and Archive, Chatham, from the J.V. Stephens 'Geology of Italy' file (accession number 14,241). Fig. 9 -Italy 1:500,000 Calabria Water Supply Overprint. ...
Article
British armed forces made professional use of only two military geologists as staff officers in World War I, and only two in World War II until June 1943, when appointment of Captain (later Major) J.V. Stephens broke new ground. Stephens landed in Sicily on 10 July 1943, D-Day of the Allied invasion. He served successively in Sicily and mainland Italy, as Staff Officer (Geology) at the headquarters of the Allied armies, assisting planning for advances into enemy-occupied terrain (‘operations’) and development of a military infrastructure within regions when held by the Allies (‘works’). Another geologist staff officer, Major W.A. Macfadyen, arrived in Italy in July 1944, with Allied Forces headquarters for the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations. His duties included fieldwork in Lampedusa, Pantelleria, Corsica and Sicily. The Allies used Italian geological maps reprinted by the Geographical Section General Staff of the British Army; geotechnical maps and reports compiled in England by the Inter- Service Topographical Department; and maps/reports generated in the USA by the Military Geology Unit of the US Geological Survey.
... In February 1943, Dr Edward Bailey 4 (see Figure 4) was sent from England to the Maltese islands, then a pivotal British base in the central Mediterranean, to advise the garrison on the feasibility of improving local water supplies by drilling new boreholes (Morris 1952, Rose 2012a. His task was apparently assigned because of his senior status (Director of the Geological Survey of Great Britain) rather than his proficiency as a hydrogeologist, for his major work to that time had been the interpretation, in terms of three-dimensional concepts, of "phenomena observed by surface mapping of mainly igneous and metamorphic rocks in the mountains, hills and islands of western Scotland" (Stubblefield 1965, p. 1). ...
... Greig sailed for Venezuela on 15 May 1934, accompanied by two other geologists: Patrick Archibald William Spens and Joseph Peter de Verteuil. Spens was to serve as a petroleum exploration geologist in Venezuela for at least two years and later, in wartime, as an officer with Boring Sections Royal Engineers, notably in North Africa(Rose 2012a). Greig, however, did not stay long in Venezuela: he landed back in the United Kingdom by boat from Trinidad on 15 September 1934. ...
Article
Edward Battersby Bailey (1881-1965), Director of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, visited the 6-km2Gibraltar peninsula twice in 1943, in transit from/to England and the Mediterranean island of Malta. He spent only five days in total on Gibraltar, but submitted two influential reports to its Fortress Headquarters, guided by rock features exposed by recent quarrying. On his recommendation, a deep borehole was drilled below the northern isthmus in an attempt to locate a supposed aquifer in Cenozoic sandstones believed to extend south from Spain, and A. L. Greig (a graduate of Imperial College, London, serving locally in the ranks of the Royal Engineers) prepared a new geological map (at 1:5,280) and a report to help guide tunnel excavation within the bedrock. Between 1945 and 1948, Lieutenant (later Captain) G. B. Alexander (a graduate of the University of Cambridge also serving in the Royal Engineers) generated a much more detailed map (at 1:2,500) of the bedrock plus superficial deposits, together with associated diagrams and geotechnical reports. These unpublished documents, and fossils collected during their preparation, influenced a re-interpretation of Gibraltar (as the remnant of an overturned limb of a klippe of Early Jurassic dolomitic limestone thrust into position during the Betic-Rif Orogeny), published by Bailey in 1953. A report to accompany Alexander's map was never completed, but documents constituting the most complete record known of his Gibraltar work are now preserved within the archives of the British Geological Survey. Reserve army officers later compiled a geological map of Gibraltar (at 1:10,000) published by the Royal Engineers in 1991. Thereafter, as garrison strength became greatly reduced, work under military auspices was increasingly superseded by civilian research.
... In order to collect as much information as possible, all sources of data were explored, starting from the consultation of the government technical reports stored as hard copies in the Energy and Water Agency archives-examples reported in Section S1 of the electronic supplementary material (ESM). The archive research enabled recovery of material such as potentiometric maps, comments on boreholes drilling by the Royal Army "Boring Sections" during World War II (GSGB 1945;Rose 2012), a review of water supply development from 1610 to 1945 (Morris 1952), designs of the water galleries with details about the main water-bearing fractures (Government of Malta 1961), sketches about dams construction, and many other precious descriptions which constituted a large and diverse qualitative dataset made up of descriptions, drawings, images, photos. Clearly, deriving absolute meaning or statistics from such data is nearly impossible, but they could be effectively used to: ...
Article
Conventional hydrogeological practice is to formulate a conceptual model, which is often the basis of a numerical model. The numerical model is then used to test groundwater management strategies. A workflow is proposed, employing the numerically enhanced conceptual model (NECoM) of the Mean Sea Level Aquifer (MSLA) on the island of Malta. The Malta MSLA is overexploited and under threat of salinization. Data (heads, chloride concentrations, electrical conductivity logs, tidal tests and qualitative analyses) were assimilated into a fast-running numerical model. Simultaneously, strategies for optimal acquisition of further data were examined through themodelling process. Themodel was delivered through the Energy andWater Agency, with suggestions for flexible model deployment. These workflows will, hopefully, spawn model improvements through further revision of the base concepts. The model allows the agency to make predictions, which have uncertainties that are quantified and reduced through data assimilation as new data become available. Contemplated management plans can therefore be properly assessed before implementation. The proposed NECoM approach can be generalized since it bases model usage on the premise that modelling should make maximum use of existing data by assimilating its information content, thereby highlighting the uncertainties of decision-critical predictions that remain because of data insufficiency. Thus, the presently disjointed process of modelling on the one hand, and data acquisition on the other, can be better aligned. Conceptual and numerical model development become parallel, rather than sequential, activities. Together, they enable predictions of future system behaviour for which bias is reduced and uncertainties quantified.
... 31 ) . In contrast , for the Normandy campaign of 1944 , water supply maps to guide Allied military planning were a British responsibility ( Rose 2012b ) . Fig . ...
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Full-text available
Over the past 100 years, hydrogeology has played a role in most military operations undertaken by the USA. The first significant application by US forces took place during World War I, on the Western Front. America’s entry into World War II highlighted the need for military hydrogeologists once again, and a combination of civilian and uniformed hydrogeologists provided valuable support to the war effort, notably by terrain analysis. During the Cold War, the United States Geological Survey Military Geology Branch conducted military hydrogeological studies, and in 1985 the US Army Corps of Engineers created the Water Detection Response Team (WDRT) to provide hydrogeological expertise to military well-drilling units. During the Persian Gulf War of 1990–1991, groundwater was important for sustaining troops living in the northern Saudi Arabian desert. Operations in Bosnia and Kosovo later in that decade required the assistance of the WDRT in obtaining adequate groundwater supplies for base camps. Current military operations in Afghanistan rely on groundwater as a significant source for most US bases. In combination, uniformed and civilian geologists serving in a variety of roles to support American troops have located water supplies essential to the success of US military operations around the globe.
... The 'Boring sections' in Egypt drilled a total of 1,032 wells of which 156 were successful, with an average depth of 21 meters and average yield of 271 litres per second. Wells drilled in parts of the Western Desert west of Burg el Arab in Egypt had an average depth of 44.5 meters(Rose 2012). ...
... The companies may well have received some military geological guidance during the latter part of their time in the region. No. 2 Boring Section Royal Engineers had arrived at Algiers on 5 March 1943 with an experienced geologist among its three officers: Lieutenant William Archibald Macfadyen MC (1893MC ( -1985 (Rose 2012b). His first action on arrival was to accompany the officer commanding his section on a visit to the local Geological Survey to obtain geological maps and information. ...
Article
Eight Quarrying Companies Royal Engineers were raised during World War II, the first four in 1940. Unable to deploy to France as planned, these were used initially for bomb disposal, but from January 1941 companies 851 and 854 (succeeded in 1942 by 857) quarried stone for the construction of two military ports in western Scotland. In early to mid-1943, these companies were sent to support Allied forces in the North African Campaign and, from December 1943, the subsequent Italian Campaign. Other companies initially focused on ports and airfields associated with operations in the Atlantic: Company 853 quarried from 1941 to 1942 in Northern Ireland; Company 855 was deployed in 1941 to Poolewe in NW Scotland, before assignment in 1942-43 to Gibraltar; and companies 125 and 856 quarried from 1942 to 1943 on the Faroe Islands. Four companies were successively employed from 1942 to 1944 quarrying in Oxfordshire to aid the construction of a Central Ordnance Depot. Although three companies were operational in the Mediterranean region, the other five were united in 1944 to form a Quarry Group to support Allied operations in Normandy and the subsequent campaign across northern France, Belgium and into Germany. All eight received some geological guidance; all were disbanded before 1947.
... The 'Boring sections' in Egypt drilled a total of 1,032 wells of which 156 were successful, with an average depth of 21 meters and average yield of 271 litres per second. Wells drilled in parts of the Western Desert west of Burg el Arab in Egypt had an average depth of 44.5 meters(Rose 2012). ...
... Only a few served in uniform as 'field force' geologists: solitary geologist officers within the Engineer staff at General Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force in France (1939-40), Middle East Forces in Egypt (1941, Central Mediterranean Force in Italy , and 21st Army Group in NW Europe (1943-45) (although an additional geologist officer was appointed to serve in Italy and another in NW Europe, as those campaigns developed (Rose & Rosenbaum 1993;Rose 2004Rose , 2011Rose & Clatworthy 2008a)). Other geologists were able to make indirect use of their professional skills by service within the ten Boring Sections created within the Royal Engineers (the 'RE'), primarily to access potable groundwater for British military use (Rose 2012). Engineers with geological training or association were amongst officers assigned to the eight Quarrying Companies RE, and to the ten Tunnelling Companies RE, also newly created during the war, but were typically not geologists as such (Rose 2018a, b). ...
Article
During the war of 1939-45, intelligence was gleaned from aerial photographs by a newly founded organization that developed into the Allied Central Interpretation Unit. This was based primarily at Danesfield House (known as Royal Air Force Medmenham) some 50 km west of London, in Buckinghamshire. At least six British geoscientists (and at least one American, L. J. Simon) were amongst its pioneering photographic interpreters, all recruited from civilian life: Palaeobotanist H. Hamshaw Thomas; geologists L. R. Wager, N. L. Falcon, P. E. Kent and P. Allen; and a geologist who became distinguished as a geographer, D. L. Linton. Of these six, all except Linton were to become Fellows of the Royal Society (FRS): The highest British academic accolade for a scientist. Work at Medmenham, although important for the war effort, required interpreters familiar with aerial photographs rather than geology as such - but geology did assist the search for storage sites for 'V' weapons, terrain interpretation for the 1944 Allied landings in Normandy, and in guiding plans to bomb German industrial complexes hidden underground.
... The 'Boring sections' in Egypt drilled a total of 1,032 wells of which 156 were successful, with an average depth of 21 meters and average yield of 271 litres per second. Wells drilled in parts of the Western Desert west of Burg el Arab in Egypt had an average depth of 44.5 meters(Rose 2012). ...
... A few became 'field force' geologists comparable with the two of World War I (Rose and Rosenbaum 1993b;Rose 2011). Some joined the Royal Engineers in the hope of using their geological expertise in its Boring Sections (drilling wells to abstract groundwater) or Tunnelling Companies (excavating underground facilities safe from aerial or artillery bombardment) (Rose 2012(Rose , 2018a. From 1943, as British forces moved increasingly from defence to counter attack, some were used to create small units to compile terrain intelligence maps and reports: the Strategic Branch of the Geological Survey of India (in India, at Calcutta) and the Geological Section of the Inter-Service Topographical Department (in England, at Oxford) (Rose 2005;Rose and Clatworthy 2007, 2008Farrington 2009;Ludford 2009). ...
Article
‘Bill’ Wager, after undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Cambridge, became a lecturer at the University of Reading in southern England in 1929. He was granted leave in the 1930s to participate in lengthy expeditions that explored the geology of Greenland, an island largely within the Arctic Circle. With friends made on those expeditions, he became in June 1940 an early recruit to the Photographic Development Unit of the Royal Air Force that pioneered the development of aerial photographic interpretation for British armed forces. He was quickly appointed to lead a ‘shift’ of interpreters. The unit moved in 1941 from Wembley in London to Danesfield House in Buckinghamshire, known as Royal Air Force Medmenham, to become the Central Interpretation Unit for Allied forces—a ‘secret’ military intelligence unit that contributed significantly to Allied victory in World War II. There Wager led one of three ‘shifts’ that carried out the ‘Second Phase’ studies in a three-phase programme of interpretation that became a standard operating procedure. Promoted in 1941 to the rank of squadron leader in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, he was given command of all ‘Second Phase’ work. Sent with a detachment of photographic interpreters to the Soviet Union in 1942, he was of ficially ‘mentioned in a Despatch’ on return to England. By the end of 1943 the Central Interpretation Unit had developed into a large organization with an experienced staff, so Wager was allowed to leave Medmenham in order to become Prof essor of Geology in the University of Durham. He resigned his commission in July 1944. Appointed Prof essor of Geology in the University of Oxford in 1950, he died prematurely from a heart attack in 1965, best remembered for his work on the igneous rocks of the Skaergaard intrusion in Greenland and an attempt to climb Mount Everest in 1933.
... It was calculated initially that 75 trucks each carrying 85 jerry cans with a capacity of 20 l were required for transporting the daily requirements of just one army division between water supply points. However, both British and German forces came to make significant use of drilled boreholes to reduce the need for longdistance water transport, and wells sited with geologist guidance were progressively developed as the conflict oscillated across North Africa (Rose 2012b;Willig & Häusler 2012b). ...
Article
The military aspects of hydrogeology can be categorized into five main fields: the use of groundwater to provide a water supply for combatants and to sustain the infrastructure and defence establishments supporting them; the influence of near-surface water as a hazard affecting mobility, tunnelling and the placing and detection of mines; contamination arising from the testing, use and disposal of munitions and hazardous chemicals; training, research and technology transfer; and groundwater use as a potential source of conflict. In both World Wars, US and German forces were able to deploy trained hydrogeologists to address such problems, but the prevailing attitude to applied geology in Britain led to the use of only a few, talented individuals, who gained relevant experience as their military service progressed. Prior to World War II, existing techniques were generally adapted for military use. Significant advances were made in some fields, notably in the use of Norton tube wells (widely known as Abyssinian wells after their successful use in the Abyssinian War of 1867/1868) and in the development of groundwater prospect maps. Since 1945, the need for advice in specific military sectors, including vehicle mobility, explosive threat detection and hydrological forecasting, has resulted in the growth of a group of individuals who can rightly regard themselves as military hydrogeologists.
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Geological support for the fortification of Alderney came principally from the German Army. During 1941 it came from Second Lieutenant Walther Klüpfel on Jersey, subsequently from the ‘Technical War Administration Officers’ (TKVRs) Walter Wetzel and Friedrich Röhrer in Paris. During 1942 it came first from Lance Corporal (later TKVR) Dieter Hoenes on assignment from the military geological team Wehrgeologenstelle 7, and for the rest of the year from TKVRs Dieter Hoenes and Bernard Beschoren whilst based on Guernsey leading Wehrgeologenstelle 4. Most reports focused on aspects of water supply, and the need to develop groundwater by means of shallow infiltration galleries rather than deep drilled boreholes. Geological studies were complemented by an earth resistivity survey carried out in March–April 1942 by a geophysics reconnaissance unit of the German Army’s military geological organization, led by TKVR Johann Kliemstein (seemingly assisted by TKV Inspektor Woerner): to help determine the depth to groundwater in weathered basement rocks and the extent of a likely freshwater lens above sea water in the coastal zone. Army geologists compiled thematic maps at the scale of 1:10,000, notably two military geological maps to guide extensive fortification in a way comparable with that on Jersey and Guernsey and a raw materials map and report to guide quarrying of bedrock and superficial sands/gravels to support the construction programme. They also compiled reports related to tunnelling for underground facilities, as on the other islands, although in a different geological setting. Additionally, Air Force construction teams at work on sites for anti-aircraft batteries and other facilities had access in 1942 and 1943 to the expertise of a geologist within the Luftwaffe’s field works office for the Channel Islands, based on Guernsey.
Article
Napoleon Bonaparte was, in 1798, the first general to include geologists as such on a military operation. Within the UK, the following century saw geology taught, and national geological mapping initiated, as a military science. Nevertheless, military geologists were not deployed on a battlefield until World War I, first by the German and Austro-Hungarian armies and later and less intensively those of the UK and USA. Geologists were used primarily to guide abstraction of groundwater, construction of 'mine' tunnels and dug-outs, development of fortifications and quarrying of natural resources to enhance or repair supply routes. Only the USSR and Germany entered World War II with organized military geological expertise, but the UK and later the USA made significant use of military geologists, albeit far fewer than the c. 400 in total used by German forces. Military geologist roles in World War II included most of those of World War I, but were extended to other aspects of terrain evaluation, notably the rapid construction of temporary airfields and factors affecting cross-country vehicular movement ('going'). After 1945, more military geologists were used in the USA than Germany or the UK, in these and wider roles, but mostly as civilians or reservists.
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Vojna geografija kao važna primijenjena geografska disciplina nedovoljno se razvija u geografiji i potrebno joj je otvoriti 'prostor' čime se otvara odnosno širi i područje djelovanja geografa. U članku su prikazane vojnogeografska analiza i sinteza koje predstavljaju temeljni geografski pristup u proučavanju određenog povijesnog ratišta kao dijela geografskog prostora, a za primjer je uzeta prva bitka kod El Alameina iz Drugog svjetskog rata koja se odvijala u specifičnim pustinjskim uvjetima. Ovakav pristup geografskom proučavanju ratišta valja razvijati ne samo u istraživanju povijesnih ratišta i bojišta nego i onih koja postoje u suvremenim ratovima kako bi se uočili utjecaji specifičnih lokalnih obilježja na provedbu i tijek vojnih operacija i kako bi se oni primijenili u planiranju istih. Military geographic features of desert battle of El Alamein in World War II Military geography as an important applied geographical discipline is insufficiently approached and developed within geography as the parent discipline. It is necessary to make the room for this discipline because this will widen the field of activity for geographers. In this paper military geographic analysis and sintesis are undertaken as a fundemental geographical approach in study of a historical battlefield as a part of geographical space. The area of study is the battlefield of El Alamein from World War II at which in a specific desert condition first battle of El Alamein took place. Such an approach to geographic analysis of the battlefield should be developed not only for investigation of historical battlefield but those in contemporary wars and conflicts as well in order to detect impacts of specific local properties on the execution and development of military operations and to build applicative knowledge for their planning.
Article
In 2003, three British reserve army geologists contributed hydrogeological advice to assist planning for the Coalition invasion of Iraq by predicting likely groundwater and drilling conditions. In consequence, 521 Specialist Team Royal Engineers (Water Development) was deployed in theatre soon after hostilities began, to provide a water supply infrastructure for British troops. However, a speedy end to combat, and concentration of British troops in southern Iraq where surface waters were the primary source of supply, necessitated only four new boreholes. Elements of 521 STRE deployed to Afghanistan in 2006, again with hydrogeological guidance, to enhance water supplies for a Provincial Reconstruction Team and Forward Operating Base (FOB), and to develop a water supply infrastructure for the main British operational base at Camp Bastion. Local contractors were used to drill 11 wells, each to over 100 m depth, in Quaternary alluvium. Subsequently, hydrogeology was used to guide successful groundwater development at four out of five FOBs, involving 28 new boreholes, minimizing risks associated with water supply by road or helicopter, and to facilitate expansion of Camp Bastion to accommodate a surge of Coalition troops. Tasks in Afghanistan have generated the most significant British military use of hydrogeology in recent years.
Article
Project Aquatrine was the UK Ministry of Defence's Private Finance Initiative project to transfer responsibility for water supply and waste water removal to private companies. Britain was split into three geographical areas, with Package A approximately covering the area to the west of a line between the Mersey and Southampton, Package C covering the rest of England, and Package B covering Scotland. Hydrogeology was a major factor in the models used to produce financial forecasts for Package A, upon which the winning bid was based. Reconnaissance-level understanding of aquifers, water demand and the Environment Agency's view of licensing possibilities were used to produce a list of sites where water resources could be developed to replace the incumbent water suppliers. Several sites have been developed successfully, but a number of possible abstractions have failed to be realized because of hydrogeological (quality, quantity) and other causes. In the operational phase of Aquatrine, hydrogeology was used to understand the data produced by a new network of telemetred groundwater level loggers, to constrain the location of new sewage treatment works and to apply for appropriate abstraction licences when Crown Immunity under the Water Resources Act 1991 is finally lost.
Article
During the Second World War, the Allied invasion of the French coast of Normandy on D‐Day, 6 June 1944, was the greatest amphibious assault in world history. An article in Geology Today (v.11, for 1995, pp.58–63) marked the 50th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe, on 8 May 1945, by describing how British military geologists had participated in planning for D‐Day and in the NW Europe campaign that followed it. The work of these geologists provides a classic case history, revealing that ‘military geology’ has many potential applications. Geological factors influenced site selection for temporary airfields, predictions of trafficability for the Normandy beaches, the development of potable water supplies, and quarrying for road metal—and more besides. This new article helps to mark the 75th anniversary of D‐Day by further details of how geologists and geology contributed to Allied victory.
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British geologists participated for more than a year in the planning of “Operation Overlord,” the Allied invasion of northwest France. Following D-Day on June 6, 1944, they contributed to the subsequent 11-month operational phase in western Europe, including the initial 3-month battle for Normandy. Beachhead maps were prepared prior to the invasion at 1:5,000 scale from published topographic and geologic maps, aerial photographs, and secret ground reconnaissance. They indicated the character of the beaches and cliffs, distribution of different surface sediments, and other factors likely to affect cross-beach mobility. Airfield suitability maps were made to indicate the distribution within enemy territory of candidate areas for the rapid construction of airfields. After the invasion, between June 7 and August 13, 1944, 20 airstrips, mostly 1,100–1,500 m in length, were completed in the British occupied area of Normandy. Geological information was used to guide the systematic development of road metal. Initially, weak Jurassic limestones were quarried, as at Creully; later, stronger Paleozoic quartzites were worked, as at Mouen, southwest of Caen. Stone produced by the Royal Engineers in Normandy quickly rose to a peak monthly total of more than 140,000 tonnes in August 1944. Water supply intelligence and the control of well siting and drilling were geologist’s responsibilities. In 1st Corps area, about 50 water points were established, with 12 operational at any one time. Water in Normandy was obtained largely from rivers and existing wells, supplemented by 33 new boreholes. Geologists were also used to assess the effects of aerial bombing; soil conditions affecting cross-country vehicular movement; ground conditions for river crossings; and the nature of the sea floor beneath the English Channel. Normandy thus provides a case history of British military geology “par excellence.”
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The first geologists employed in government service in Britain had military appointments: J. MacCulloch from 1809 to 1826 in England and Scotland, and J. W. Pringle followed by J. E. Portlock from 1826 to 1843 in Ireland. The founder of the British Geological Survey in 1835, and his successor as director-general in 1855, both had military origins. Several early influential members of the world’s oldest geological society, founded in London in 1807, had military connections. From 1819 to about 1896 geology contributed to military education in Britain at the East India Company’s military college, the Royal Military Academy, the Royal Military College, the Staff College, or the School of Military Engineering. However, professional geologists were not strictly used as such in the British army until the 1914–1918 world war, and then they were primarily used in response to problems of static battlefield conditions on the western front in Europe. W. B. R. King guided development of potable ground-water supplies; T. W. E. David guided siting of mine tunnels and dugouts, and other geologists served with the Tunnelling Companies of the Engineer Corps. Geologists were used more widely in the more mobile conflicts of the 1939–1945 world war: notably W. B. R. King in France and the United Kingdom, F. W. Shotton in North Africa and northwest Europe, and J. V. Stephens in Italy. These and others were all to some extent concerned with water supply, but increasingly geologists became involved in terrain assessment for military purposes (e.g., airfield sites, ground trafficability, quarrying of aggregates, and effects of aerial bombing). In both wars there were but few British military geologists; most were granted Emergency Commissions in the Royal Engineers for their war service. Only since 1949 has the corps maintained continuity of geological expertise through a small team of reserve army officers. This team now provides support for regular forces in both peace and war.
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In the early years of the Geological Survey, staff built up a considerable understanding of the movement of groundwater, and water supply memoirs were published from 1899. During World War I, one of the tasks of the Survey was to advise on the provision of water supplies. However, this emphasis did not continue when war ended, and it was not until the 1930s that interest in groundwater began to increase. An Inland Water Survey Committee was formed and the groundwater component of its work was entrusted to the Survey. A modest Water Unit was set up in 1937, staffed by members of Field Units on rotation, but limited progress was made. At the outbreak of World War II, attitudes changed and manpower was diverted to the systematic collection of groundwater data, published in a series of Wartime Pamphlets. At the end of the war, the Water Acts imposed significant obligations on the Survey and over the next five years the systematic collection and analysis of information became a professional operation. The Unit became a Department with its own permanent staff. The war acted as a catalyst highlighting problems and initiating action to the benefit of the water industry.
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The first British Army hydrogeologist to be deployed as such on a battlefield was Lieutenant W.B.R. King, in June 1915 on the Western Front. There, the British Expeditionary Force, in Belgium and northern France, expanded at its peak to five armies: 1.5 million men and 0.5 million horses/mules, each man/animal requiring on average 10 gallons (45 l) per day of potable water. A 'Water Boring Section Royal Engineers' was eventually raised for each army, equipped with American-made 'portable' drilling rigs, and utilizing air-lift pumps. These innovations and King's pioneering 'water supply' maps facilitated the development of the British Army's first operational ability to exploit groundwater from deep aquifers, primarily those in Cretaceous Chalk, by drilling >470 boreholes. Additionally, in 1915, a report by three 'British' Geological Survey officers helped guide limited boring within Allied amphibious landing areas on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. A civilian water adviser, Arthur Beeby Thompson, transferred from Gallipoli to the Balkans in January 1916 and thereafter used geology to guide significant groundwater abstraction by siting 125 military boreholes and 211 Norton tube wells. From 1915, the Director of the Geological Survey of Egypt, W.F. Hume, provided similar guidance for campaigns from Egypt into Palestine.
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The mobile conflict of the Second World War demanded a greater range of British military geological expertise than hitherto, primarily in the North African, Italian and Northwest European campaigns but also in East Africa and the Far East, and in United Kingdom home defence. Most of the senior military geologists (W. B. R. King, F. W. Shotton, J. V. Stephens, W. A. Macfadyen, J. L. Farrington, D. R. A. Ponsford, W. T. Pickard) served with the Royal Engineers, principally on tasks relating to development of potable groundwater, quarrying for bulk aggregates and assessment of terrain for military purposes (including trafficability across beaches and siting of airfields). F. W. Anderson served in the infantry, but was seconded to guide research into the effects of aerial bombardment. All were temporary soldiers and returned to civilian life at the end of the war. Since 1948, however, the British Army has maintained continuity in geological expertise through officers of the reserve army (the Territorial Army or from 1953 to 1967 the Army Emergency Reserve), for peace-time engineering projects and active service in times of crisis, whether occasioned by military conflict or humanitarian need.
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Extract (Presidential Address, December, 1950). The problem of deciding on the answer to a question of hydrogeology is one thing, the best way to record the results of an investigation is quite another. Many geologists who have been called upon to report on specific problems for firms or public water undertakings know that what is expected is a clear-cut answer to the specific enquiry. Sometimes it can be stated categorically that the site is useless for the volume or quality of water required, or occasionally the request is modest and a definitely favourable answer can be given. In the majority of cases, however, the geologist gives a somewhat qualified answer but must say whether he thinks the chances are worth taking or not. It is not questions of this sort about which I wish to speak, but rather to take examples of the various ways in which hydrogeological information has been presented, mainly by maps and diagrams of various types, whereby the geologist can make his studies available to the engineering or general public. Of recent years, the Geological Survey in its water-supply memoirs and war-time pamphlets on water-supply has developed the art of collecting and presenting hydrogeological data with great success. In the early water-supply memoirs little was attempted except the recording of well-records, and maps were seldom produced to synthesize the hydrological information. The most that was done was the publication of a map showing the contours of the water-table, but this was produced by plotting all the known ...
Article
The 6 km(2) peninsula of Gibraltar is unusual hydrogeologically as, in effect, a small but high limestone island, subject to a Mediterranean climate of cool wet winters and warm dry summers. Provision of an adequate water supply for its town and garrison has been a continuing problem, particularly as the population has grown from about 3000 in the 18th century to over 30000 by the end of the 20th. The narrow peninsula is dominated by the Rock, a mass of Lower Jurassic dolomite and limestone whose main ridge has peaks over 400 m high. Early supplies of potable water were from roof and slope rainwater runoff, and from shallow wells in the Quaternary sands that cover 'shales' flanking the Rock at low levels. Intermittent hydrogeological studies through the 19th and 20th centuries, notably in association with the British Geological Survey in 1876, 1943-1952, and 1974-1985 attempted to develop inferred groundwater resources within the sandy isthmus which links the Rock to southern Spain and in the Rock itself. Problems resulted from inadequate understanding of the geology, of recharge, of the behaviour of aquifers containing saline water at depth and of the need to protect aquifers from pollution. Failure to extract adequate groundwater led to development of a separate supply of saline sanitary water to reduce demand for potable water and innovative attempts to improve slope catchment of rainwater, before near-total commitment to desalination for potable supplies in 1993.
Article
During the 19th Century, the British military pioneered geological mapping and teaching, and the operational use of Norton tube wells. In the First World War, the British army appointed its first military hydrogeologist to serve as such, to develop water-supply maps for Belgium and northern France and guide deployment of Royal Engineer units drilling boreholes into the Cretaceous Chalk of the Somme region and Tertiary sands beneath the Flanders plain. Similar well-boring units were also deployed with geological guidance in the northeastern Mediterranean region. All military geologists were demobilized after hostilities ceased, but wartime experience was quickly drawn together in the first Royal Engineer textbook on water supply. During the Second World War, several British military well-drilling units were raised and deployed, notably to East Africa and North Africa as well as northern France, normally with military geological and sometimes (in Africa) with military geophysical technical direction. A reduced well-drilling capability has since been retained by the British army, through the Cold War to the present day, supported by a small group of reserve army geologists to contribute basic hydrogeological expertise to the armed forces for peace-time projects and war-related operations.
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William Bernard Robinson King died on 23 January 1963 as a result of a thrombosis following a comparatively minor operation. To his many friends the obituary notice which appeared in The Times three days later was a tremendous shock, for it notified the death of a man vigorous in mind and body for whom many more years of constructive work seemed to lie ahead. Bill King was a Yorkshireman who never boasted of that fact but who certainly had no regrets about the circumstances of his birth and his association with the Yorkshire Dales. Born on 12 November 1889 at West Burton near Aysgarth, he had both parents and three grandparents who could claim Yorkshire as their native county. His maternal grandmother was a descendant of Dr Hey who founded Leeds Infirmary, but it was on his father’s side that the Yorkshire connexion was so strong. Certainly from as far back as 1640 there is record of the Kings as yeoman farmers in Wensleydale and after his retirement in 1955, King went to live permanently on the land of his ancestors at the hamlet of Worton. As a boy, young King must have been shy and rather lonely, with few companions of his own age and happy to wander alone on the fells pursuing the study of natural history. He had a brother nearly four years his senior but he was accidentally killed at the age of 21. Eventually Bill King went to Uppingham from a local preparatory school, and of his time there he has written that, being of little use at Latin, the authorities had small interest in him; being no good at ball games, the boys had little use for him; and he learnt nothing of importance. Certainly he achieved the School VIII in rifle shooting, but what he enjoyed most were the outings of the Natural History Society and his solitary walks in Wordley Woods.
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Preparatory work for the Allied landings in Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944, included the creation of groundwater development potential maps for a large part of coastal northern France at a scale of 1:50 000, followed by summary maps covering coastal and inland areas eastwards into the Low Countries at a scale of 1:250000. All these maps were compiled from sources available in the UK, almost entirely by the temporary Royal Engineers officers W.B.R. King and F.W. Shotton, under conditions of strict secrecy. Their purpose was to guide military enhancement of water supplies, especially by deployment of Royal Engineers well drilling teams, to sustain the invasion force in Normandy and its advance eastwards to Germany. A uniquely complete set of maps is preserved, together with many associated documents, in the Shotton Archive of the Lapworth Museum of Geology at Birmingham. The maps are more complex than those hastily prepared by German military geologists during the summer of 1940 to guide a cross-Channel amphibious assault in the opposite direction, into southern England. They are significant as the first British attempt to produce groundwater development potential maps for a large area at detailed (1:50 000) scale, and as the precursors of modern-day groundwater harvest potential maps.
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Between November 1943 and June 1946, at least 16 geologists assisted the Inter-Service Topographical Department (ISTD), a British military unit primarily of geographers, under Royal Navy auspices, to prepare reports and geotechnical maps to guide planning of Allied military operations. Reports assessing terrain factors were generated with geologist assistance for parts of Italy, France, Germany, Austria, the Low Countries and the Balkan region; also for Malaya, parts of Indonesia, Thailand, Indo-China, Formosa, Hainan, Hong Kong and the nearby Chinese mainland. The Geological Section ISTD, as it was officially designated from August 1944, based at Oxford, had an authorized establishment of four Royal Engineers officers (briefly assisted by a few US, Canadian and Dutch military personnel), but simultaneously involved up to 12 earth scientists or engineers by August 1945; it was the only team of British military geologists to be constituted (except in India) in either World War. Its work marks a significant if largely unknown phase in the development of engineering and hydrogeological terrain evaluation skills prior to the evolution of terrain analysis as a major discipline postwar, revealed by declassified reports now preserved in the UK within the National Archives and the Royal Geographical Society's library; maps at the British and the Bodleian libraries; and documents in the University of Birmingham's Lapworth Museum of Geology.
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Pat Farrington writes: Whilst researching the background to World War II activities of my father, John Leonard Farrington (1906–1982), starting at the Imperial War Museum, I followed a data trail that led me to a recent Quarterly Journal paper (Rose & Clatworthy 2008 a ) and its subsequent discussion (Ludford 2009; Rose & Clatworthy 2009). It was recognized in the UK that ‘Tri-service [land, sea and air] warfare, especially the amphibious invasions of Europe, could not be planned on a single-service basis and needed … integrated intelligence support. The biggest example of this kind was the Inter-Service Topographical Department’ (ISTD) (Herman 1996, p. 260). A founder member of ISTD's Geological Section and commanding officer from August 1944 to June 1946, and thus for much of the Section's existence, my father and other members of the ISTD worked (usually under great pressure) to generate specialist maps and reports that provided remote terrain intelligence: a small but significant contribution to operational planning that culminated in final Allied victory. His contemporaries as senior British military geologists, notably W. B. R. King and F. W. Shotton but also J. V. Stephens, had formative influences and lives that are already well documented (e.g. by Rose & Clatworthy 2007, 2008 b ), essentially because they remained in the UK and followed careers in ‘pure’ geology after the war. In contrast, my father had a career based largely outside the UK, and in ‘applied’ geology, so few details of his life have as yet been placed on convenient public record. It thus seems timely to publish here information helpful to set his wartime geotechnical achievements in clearer context, details gleaned largely from documents in family possession, notably his ‘Officer's Record of Service’ and Army Form B199A. These have been set into military and geological context with …
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F.W. Shotton, FRS, Professor of Geology at the University of Sheffield 1945-1949, and at Birmingham 1949-1974, is best known for his research on Pleistocene geology of the English Midlands. However, during the Second World War he became a distinguished military geologist. From May 1941 to September 1943, based in Egypt, he used hydrogeology to guide development of potable water supplies for British forces operational in the Middle East and northern Africa. Recalled to the UK after campaign victory, from October 1943 he helped plan for the Allied liberation of Normandy by providing terrain evaluation (primarily through preparation of specialist maps and contribution of technical advice) relating to beach conditions, suitability of ground for the rapid construction of temporary airfields, and water supply. Following D-Day, 6 June 1944, he was based in northern France and later Belgium, and was involved with further water supply tasks, discussions on quarrying of aggregate, and assessment of soil conditions likely to influence off-road vehicle mobility or the siting of airfields and military depots, thus contributing to Allied victory in Europe in May 1945. Preparing to go into Germany, he was granted early demobilization to resume his academic career. Wartime achievements generated few of his hundred significant publications, but postwar influenced his inspirational teaching and academic leadership.
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Ted Rose & Jon Clatworthy reply: We warmly welcome Albert Ludford's addition to knowledge of many of the ISTD geologists listed and illustrated in our paper, for these personal details add context helpful to assessment of the pioneering achievements of the Geological Section ISTD. Moreover, we can now extend knowledge even further in four respects. First, we record that yet another geologist contributed to work that laid the foundation for ISTD: William Elgin Swinton (1900–1994). According to Geological Society of London records, ‘Bill’ Swinton, a ‘first class’ graduate of the University of Glasgow, was elected to fellowship of the Society in 1925 whilst employed as a curator at the Natural History Museum, London (then known as the British Museum, Natural History). However, in 1938 as the Second World War loomed, he was commissioned into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (the RNVR) (McGowan & McConnell 2004), was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (Special Branch) on 1 January 1940 according to the contemporary Navy List , and served during the war in Naval Intelligence, ‘his closest friend there being the author Ian Fleming’ (Cocks 1995, p. 21). Fleming, as a Lieutenant-Commander assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Rear-Admiral (later Vice-Admiral) J. H. Godfrey, helped to found Naval Intelligence Division 5: teams of geographers at Oxford and Cambridge that compiled handbooks for service use, in total 58 volumes covering 31 countries or country groups (see reports and minutes bound with Bassett & Wells 1946). More famously, Fleming later created the fictional hero James Bond. ISTD was initially constituted (on 27 May 1940) as a companion organization, Naval Intelligence Division 6, after the German invasion …
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NEARLY three years ago, Nature printed an article entitled ``Geology, Geologists, and the War Effort''1, which included some animadversions upon dowsing.
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During World War II, between September 1943 and April 1944, temporary Royal Engineers officers W. B. R. King and F. W. Shotton remotely generated water supply maps at a scale of 1:50 000 for coastal areas of northern France eastward from the Cherbourg peninsula to Calais: the first series of British groundwater development potential maps. These maps guided drilling of at least 30 boreholes, needed to supply water to British installations in Normandy following the Allied landings that commenced on D‐Day, 6 June 1944: part of the infrastructure necessary to facilitate the ensuing mobile campaign. Additionally, between April and September 1944, Shotton and King assisted by the Cambridge academic Maurice Black similarly compiled maps but 1:250 000 in scale for northern France eastwards from Brittany into Belgium. These guided emplacement of at least 20 Royal Engineer boreholes in Belgium during late 1944 and early 1945, part of the infrastructure for the final advance of Allied troops into Germany. Between November 1944 and May 1945, maps also at 1:250 000 and of similar but developing style were prepared for much of northern Germany by W. R. Williams and J. R. Foster‐Smith, also temporary Royal Engineers officers but of the Inter‐Service Topographical Department, easing the pressure of work on Shotton and his colleagues generated by campaign momentum. One of these maps guided emplacement of the few British boreholes sited in western Germany by May 1945, as the war in Europe came to an end. Overall, British military maps were innovations distinct in style from water supply maps compiled for contemporary German or US forces. They helped to pioneer British hydrogeological mapping, which has developed extensively post‐war but under entirely civilian auspices.
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Between November 1943 and May 1946, geologists assisted the Inter-Service Topographical Department (ISTD) to prepare reports and maps to guide planning of British military operations in Europe and the Far East. Early reports were illustrated by pre-war geological maps reprinted by the Geographical Section, General Staff, (GSGS), later reports by new simplified geological maps, usually accompanied by one or more thematic maps. An airfield suitability map for Bulgaria and soils maps for both the Middle Danube region (Hungary) and Austria were printed as part of the GSGS Miscellaneous map series, and groundwater and soils maps prepared as tracing overlays for use with topographical maps for parts of Germany. Simplified geological maps were prepared by ISTD and printed by GSGS for Sumatra, Borneo, Formosa, the Kra Isthmus region of the Burma/Thailand peninsula, Siam (Thailand) and Indo-China, Java, Hainan, and the Hong Kong to Canton region of China. These were mostly at a scale of 1:1000 000 but in varying styles, to innovatively indicate terrain features of specific military significance. Airfield suitability maps were printed at scales between 1:250 000 and 1:1000 000 for many of these regions, based on ground features and predicted soil permeability. All these specialist maps were printed in small numbers, and few copies have survived the war – notably in the British Library, the National Archives, or the library of the Royal Geographical Society. The ISTD Geological Section constituted the larger of only two teams of British military geologists to be established in either World War, exercising a role in military intelligence that is seldom acknowledged.
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Innovations for the British Army during World War I included use of a military geologist to compile 'water supply' maps and to guide well drilling. Between June 1915 and November 1918, W. B. R. King served as a staff lieutenant at General Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force deployed on the Western Front. He pioneered British development of water supply maps for parts of Belgium and northern France, in several different styles and at scales of 1 : 100 000, 1 : 250 000 and 1 : 40 000. These assisted planning for advances into enemy-occupied territory or the development of water supply infrastructure within the region held ultimately by five British armies: in total about 1,500,000 men with some 500,000 horses and mules, each man/animal requiring on average 10 gallons (45 L) per day of potable water. The maps guided emplacement of over 470 military boreholes to supply drinking water to British forces, especially in provinces underlain by Cretaceous Chalk: Picardy and Artois. German forces also made use of military geologists at the Front, but in much greater number: up to about 300 in total. Water supply tasks were given high priority, and German water supply maps were finally standardized like other medium scale German geotechnical maps at 1 : 25 000. Six geologists were deployed with the American Expeditionary Force late in the war, and for their sector of the Front compiled at least two water supply maps at 1 : 80 000, and 11 at 1 : 50 000 that were supported by explanatory reports. Wartime imperatives thus generated expertise in hydrogeology that became available for civilian use post-war, and laid the foundation for further military development during World War II.
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During the Second World War, British military geologists assisted planning for the Allied liberation of Normandy by generating specialist maps – supporting the greatest amphibious operation in world history. Maps of the landing beaches at a scale of 1:5000 indicated natural hazards to cross-beach vehicle mobility. Maps of northwest Europe at 1:1000 000 showed the varying suitability of ground for airfield construction, and larger scale maps guided the site selection and rapid construction of numerous temporary airfields. Hydrogeological maps were prepared as tracing overlays for topographical maps to guide enhancement of potable water supplies from new wells and boreholes – at a scale of 1:50 000 for coastal areas from the Cherbourg peninsula eastwards to Calais, and at 1:250 000 for most of northern France east into the Low Countries. A few 'soil' maps guided emplacement of depots for stores and vehicles, and at least two resource maps were prepared – to guide quarrying of material for road construction and sand for engineering work in general. Pioneering British military geological work on Normandy was extended for western coastal areas by large-scale American maps which included geological features for exit routes from the Omaha and Utah beaches. Bordering the eastern coast, at least two Canadian maps at 1:100 000 related geology to 'going' (cross-country trafficability). Printed in small numbers and great secrecy, few copies of any of these maps appear to have survived the war. The most extensive collection known is preserved in the Lapworth Museum of Geology, University of Birmingham. This is part of a unique personal archive, generated by Major F. W. Shotton when serving as Staff Officer (Geology) of the invasion force. It provides the basis for appraisal of broader specialist cartographic achievements contributing to Allied victory in Europe.
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Military need has been a positive driver to the development of the modern day, and now mature, science of hydrogeology. The important synergy between geology and water supply was appreciated by military men in the mid-nineteenth century but the first real test of this learning only took place in the First World War. German, British and American geologists then mapped water resources and the potential for exploiting groundwater in Belgium and northern France. Technical innovations included deployment of rapid drilling techniques and the promotion of well screens for use in unconsolidated sediments. The mapping techniques were developed further during the Second World War when innovative remote mapping of enemy-occupied territory became an important planning tool to both Allied and German armies. Work in North Africa and other arid and semi-arid terrains promoted insight into the occurrence of groundwater in fresh-water aquifers little replenished by recharge. Mapping of hard rock basement-type environments in the islands of Jersey and Guernsey by German geologists was a concept new to the British Isles. Collectively, these varied initiatives provided part of the foundation for post-Second World War development of modern-day applied hydrogeology.
Military Engineering VI: Water Supply. HMSO, London. Anon. 1936. Military Engineering
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