Soil and water: research by the British Army's Committee on Mud Crossing Performance of Tracked Armoured Fighting Vehicles in World War II
David A. Greenwood, 2012. "Soil and water: research by the British Army's Committee on Mud Crossing Performance of Tracked Armoured Fighting Vehicles in World War II", Military Aspects of Hydrogeology, E. P. F. Rose, J. D. Mather
Download citation file:
Problems experienced by armoured fighting vehicles (‘tanks’) crossing soft ground became apparent during World War I. These were avoided early in World War II by the use of ‘going’ maps in North Africa from 1940 to 1943, but when operations moved to NW Europe it was realized that there would be the additional problem of changes in ground conditions due to variations in soil moisture according to the weather. This led to an investigation into factors controlling the movement of tracked vehicles over water-softened ground, beginning in July 1944 with the establishment of the ‘Mud Committee’, tasked to consider problems in light of recent developments in the (then) new science of soil mechanics. Contemporary ideas, as applied to building and road construction, were found to be inapplicable, and attention was therefore focused on empirical trials. The Committee faced the constant problem of balancing the requirement for short-term results with the need for long-term research. As a result, it failed to meet many of its objectives by the end of hostilities, but its work did provide a sound basis for the development of a method of classifying soils for military purposes and for future work on track design.
Figures & Tables
This book, generated under the auspices of the Geological Society of London’s History of Geology and Hydrogeological Groups, contains 20 papers from authors in the UK, USA, Germany and Austria. Historically, it gives examples of the influence of groundwater on battlefield tactics and fortress construction; describes how groundwater was developed for water supply and overcome as an obstacle to military engineering and cross-country vehicular movement by both sides in World Wars I and II; and culminates with examples of the application of hydrogeology to site boreholes in recent conflicts, notably in Afghanistan. Examples of current research described include hydrological model development; the impact of variations in soil moisture on explosive threat detection and cross-country vehicle mobility; contamination arising from defence sites and its remediation; privatization of water supplies; and the equitable allocation of resources derived from an international transboundary aquifer.