German military geology and military mining on the Eastern Front in World War I
Published:January 01, 2019
Dierk Willig, 2019. "German military geology and military mining on the Eastern Front in World War I", Military Aspects of Geology: Fortification, Excavation and Terrain Evaluation, E.P.F. Rose, J. Ehlen, U. L. Lawrence
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At its peak, the Eastern Front encompassed the entire frontier between the Russian Empire and Romania on the Allied side and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria, the (Turkish) Ottoman Empire and the German Empire on the other: a distance of c. 1500–1700 km. Mobile warfare alternated with periods of static trench and siege warfare, when ‘mines’ (tunnels charged with explosives detonated to breach the overhead fortifications) and ‘dugouts’ (to protect troops from artillery or aerial bombardment) were constructed in at least 50 localities between 1915 and 1917, from Mitau in present-day Latvia to Rarancze in Moldova. Terrain ranged from plateaux floored by Cenozoic sediments in the north to mountains with more complex, older, stronger rocks in the south. Despite lessons learnt from the Russo-Japanese war of 1904–05, both sides began the conflict unprepared for tunnelling warfare. However, German and Austro-Hungarian forces soon developed units of military geologists whose duties included guidance of tunnelling projects. Eight teams of German military geologists and four of Austro-Hungarian, in total over 60 men who can be named, are known to have served on the Front, as did newly formed and equipped specialist engineer mining battalions from Prussia, Bavaria and Austria-Hungary.
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Military Aspects of Geology: Fortification, Excavation and Terrain Evaluation
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS
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.