The northern Atlantic Wall: German engineering geology work in Norway during World War II
Published:January 01, 2019
Hermann Häusler, 2019. "The northern Atlantic Wall: German engineering geology work in Norway during World War II", Military Aspects of Geology: Fortification, Excavation and Terrain Evaluation, E.P.F. Rose, J. Ehlen, U. L. Lawrence
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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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Military Aspects of Geology: Fortification, Excavation and Terrain Evaluation
This book complements the Geological Society’s Special Publication 362: Military Aspects of Hydrogeology. Generated under the auspices of the Society’s History of Geology and Engineering Groups, it contains papers from authors in the UK, USA, Germany and Austria. Substantial papers describe some innovative engineering activities, influenced by geology, undertaken by the armed forces of the opposing nations in World War I. These activities were reactivated and developed in World War II. Examples include trenching from World War I, tunnelling and quarrying from both wars, and the use of geologists to aid German coastal fortification and Allied aerial photographic interpretation in World War II. The extensive introduction and other chapters reveal that ‘military geology’ has a longer history. These chapters relate to pre-twentieth century coastal fortification in the UK and the USA; conflict in the American Civil War; long-term ‘going’ assessments for German forces; tunnel repair after wartime route denial in Hong Kong; and tunnel detection after recent insurgent improvisation in Iraq.