Aspects of German military geology and groundwater development in World War II
A uniformed geological organization was re-created within the German Army by the start of World War II and developed to comprise 40 centres or teams by 1943. Many specialist geotechnical maps and reports prepared by these military geologists have survived the war as part of the Heringen Collection; some remains in the USA, but other parts are in Germany, notably within the archives of the Bundeswehr Geoinformation Office. German armed forces made use of about 400 geologists in total during the conflict, mostly in the Army. Many of their tasks involved groundwater studies, some including the preparation of groundwater prospect maps. Temporary water supplies were set up during mobile campaigns by planning efficient use or enhancement of existing civilian resources, supplemented by driving shallow ‘Abyssinian’ tube wells, for example, in Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of SE England planned for September 1940 but ultimately cancelled. Sustainable long-term supplies in militarily occupied territory were achieved by rigorous data collection and programmes of well drilling, spring capture or percolation gallery construction, one example being on the Channel Islands between 1940 and 1945. Geophysics sometimes aided the geological and borehole studies that guided deployment of well-drilling teams, for example, in 1941/1942, to support German and Italian forces operational in North Africa.