Fred Shotton: a 'hero' of military applications of geology during World War II

EPF Rose, Jonathan Clatworthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)


F. W. Shotton, FRS, Professor of Geology at the University of Sheffield 1945-1949, and at Birmingham 1949-1974, is best known for his research on Pleistocene geology of the English Midlands. However, during the Second World War he became a distinguished military geologist. From May 1941 to September 1943, based in Egypt, he used hydrogeology to guide development of potable water supplies for British forces operational in the Middle East and northern Africa. Recalled to the UK after campaign victory, from October 1943 he helped plan for the Allied liberation of Normandy by providing terrain evaluation (primarily through preparation of specialist maps and contribution of technical advice) relating to beach conditions, suitability of ground for the rapid construction of temporary airfields, and water supply. Following D-Day, 6 June 1944, he was based in northern France and later Belgium, and was involved with further water supply tasks, discussions on quarrying of aggregate, and assessment of soil conditions likely to influence off-road vehicle mobility or the siting of airfields and military depots, thus contributing to Allied victory in Europe in May 1945. Preparing to go into Germany, he was granted early demobilization to resume his academic career. Wartime achievements generated few of his hundred significant publications, but postwar influenced his inspirational teaching and academic leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-188
Number of pages18
JournalQuarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2008


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