Who Digs Wins : how geology helped win the First World War

North East Yorkshire Geology Trust has been awarded a grant of £9,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to explore how geology changed the course of the First World War.

Thanks to National Lottery players this one year project will involve an exploration of the hidden side of World War One to discover how the two sides approached the use of technology and science.
By focusing on geology we hope to learn how each side used this science to aid their war efforts, were there any differences between the two sides and what impact it had on the final outcome.
By 1914 Britain was a world leader in the geological sciences; did it give us a decisive edge in the conflict? It has been understood since the Romans some two thousand years ago that wars are won by logistics, in other words by whichever side can make the most weapons, build the most fortifications/barracks/hospitals, can deliver the most transport, ships, artillery, uniforms, shields, armour and all the paraphernalia of warfare.

By the early 1900’s wars demanded lots of machinery and high technology like dreadnought battleships, long range artillery, machine guns, trench mortars, hand grenades, tanks, aeroplanes, cars, trucks, railways. All these needed materials dug from the ground like iron ore, limestone and fluorspar and that required a highly developed knowledge of geology.

The project will explore local and national archives, museums and libraries to discover the raw information and will also undertake field trips to industrial and geological sites that help to illustrate this story. We will try to find out who were the people involved in this staggering effort, what difference did it make to the outcome of the war, which side had the better approach and whether it is still important today?

Whilst we do all this, we will encourage local people to get involved by volunteering to explore their local archives, museums, etc and by inviting them to join the various site visits and project workshops that will be held throughout the duration of the project. We will also develop the skills base of those involved, starting with our interns, encouraging them to not only help with research but also to deliver presentations about the project to the public and local communities.

The Geology Trust would like to invite anyone interested in helping with the project or learning more about what’s involved to contact them direct. We are especially keen to hear from people who think they may be able to help undertake research. Help with research and survey skills will be provided.

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, the head of the HLF in Yorkshire and the Humber, Fiona Spiers, said: "The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already invested more than £81 million to more than 1,560 projects – large and small - that are marking this global Centenary; with our new small grants programme, we are enabling even more communities like those involved in "Who Digs Wins" to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world."

Heritage Lottery FundHeritage Lottery Fund - Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.

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