When the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy on the Battle of D-Day, most people would not have considered geotechnical engineering as having played much of a role. But leading up to this historic day, British Special Operations commandos performed incursions onto Sword Beach in Normandy to collect soil samples and other information to determine if the beach would have the adequate bearing capacity to support the landing equipment and vehicles. Having equipment bog down in a peat layer beneath the sand, something present at other beaches considered for invasion, would have been disastrous for troops and the war.
Bill Lawson wrote an article entitled “Soil Sampling at Sword Beach in Normandy, France, 1943,
How Geotechnical Engineering Influenced the D-Day Invasion” about this war-time geotechnical engineering in the March/April 2020 issue (the 20th Anniversary Edition!) of GEOSTRATA Magazine. GEOSTRATA Editor Jeff Dunn recently interviewed Bill about this article as a special feature for Memorial Day! Check out the recorded webinar below!