- May
Posted By : Secretary
The Geological Society – A collection of papers to commemorate VE Day

From the Geological Society, 8 May 2020:

To mark VE Day’s 75th anniversary we’ve collated a selection of our papers describing the contributions of military geologists ranging from terrain evaluation, aerial photography, geology based intelligence and tunnelling projects. 
These articles are available free until 19 May 2020 on the Lyell Collection for you to enjoy. 
Kind regards, 
The Geological Society Publishing House

Fred Shotton: a ‘hero’ of military applications of geology during World War II

By E.P.F. Rose and J.C. Clatworthy

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… (MORE)

Aerial photographic intelligence during World War II: contributions by some distinguished British geologists

By Edward P. F. Rose

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… (MORE)

War as a catalyst for change: groundwater studies in the Geological Survey of Great Britain before 1950 and the impact of two World Wars

By John D. Mather

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… (MORE)

Terrain evaluation for Allied military operations in Europe and the Far East during World War II: ‘secret’ British reports and specialist maps generated by the Geological Section, Inter-Service Topographical Department

By E.P.F. Rose and J.C. Clatworthy

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… (MORE)

The US Geological Survey’s Military Geology Unit in World War II: ‘the Army’s pet prophets’

By C. M. Nelson and E. P. F. Rose

In 1942 the US Geological Survey formed a Military Geology Unit (MGU) at Washington, DC of in-house and other earth scientists and engineers to gather terrain and related strategic intelligence. MGU compiled reports containing data about regions outside the USA as tables, text and maps for use by Allied forces, especially American and British. Benefiting to some extent from both Allied and German geological experience in World War I, MGU developed into by far the largest geology-based intelligence unit used to help guide Allied planning and operations in World War II… (MORE)

Tunnelling Companies Royal Engineers in World War II: excavation of bomb-proof facilities in France, Gibraltar, Malta and the UK

By Edward P. F. Rose

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…  (MORE)