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German forces occupied Norway from June 1940 to secure the strategically important iron ore railway from Lulea in Sweden to Narvik in Norway and to improve the German base for war against the UK. Increasing in number to a peak in 1943, by 1945 more than 60 German and Austrian military geoscientists had supported the army, air force and paramilitary construction agency, Organisation Todt, from 1942, mostly assisting fortification works along the Norwegian coast that formed part of the Atlantic Wall. In total, six military geology units (Wehrgeologenstellen) were deployed to support Army Headquarters Norway: WG18 and WG33 were assigned to the 17th Fortress Engineers in Oslo; WG22 to the 16th Fortress Engineers at Trondheim; WG3 and WG31 to the 15th Fortress Engineers at Narvik; and WG27, not for construction works, but to support the headquarters of Dietl’s Lapland Army, operationally deployed SW of Murmansk. Engineering work at strategic locations also included airfields, U-boat pens, roads and railways. Military geologists contributed to tasks related both to the Precambrian/Paleozoic bedrock and to its locally thick Quaternary cover, notably pioneering applications of rock mechanics and soil mechanics for major excavations, and locating sources of raw materials and drinking water.

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