Conflict Archaeology adds a fresh perspective when examining the past. It contributes by examining the influences and effects of military activity within the landscape. There is a huge array of information available to researchers of military history. Evidence abounds from sources such as National archives to witness testimony. Field evidence is often overlooked. Our work aims to enhance our understanding of events by interpreting what survives on the ground. In effect, evidence in the landscape is regarded as another archival source.
Concentrating in forests of France the team has been publishing papers since 2013.
If you want to read the Abstracts for each here you go:
Published in The Journal of Military History 1st July 2020:
David Capps-Tunwell, David G Passmore and Stephan Harrison
To date evaluations on tactical air supremacy during the Normandy campaign of 1944 have tended to analyse the erosion of German fighting ability due to the destruction to the transportation system, especially bridges and railways by Air and the Resistance. Attacks on depots have been considered but not in the context of assessing the effectiveness of Allied intelligence gathering on depots. This study presents that analysis. Using archival sources in combination with Geo-archaeological records we hypothesise how a crisis in German logistics could have produced an earlier collapse of German capability, had Allied intelligence been more accurate in reporting German supply activities.
JMH Vol 84 Issue 3 p825-842. 18p.
Published in 2020:
International Journal of Historical Archaeology
Conflict archaeology of tactical air power; the Forêt Domaniale de la Londe-Rouvray and the Normandy Campaign of 1944.
David Passmore and David Capps-Tunwell.
Over 1600 extant WW2 impact craters in the Forêt Domaniale de la Londe-Rouvray, Lower Seine valley, Normandy, France have been mapped and analysed using LiDAR, historic aerial photographs, archive documents and field survey. Crater densities average 0.26/ha2 with values up to 31/ha2 in clusters around road and railway infrastructure. Some 576 craters can be dated using aerial photographs to intervals between May-August 1944 and are interpreted as bomb craters associated with Allied tactical air strikes on the Seine bridge at Orival (attacked during May in preparation for the D-Day landings) and German troop and vehicle concentrations towards the later stages of the Normandy Campaign.
Towards an archaeology and geography of WW2 German munitions storage sites in northwest Europe
David G Passmore, David Capps Tunwell, Martijn Reinders, Stephan Harrison.
This paper reviews the signature characteristics of extant Second World War German army munitions storage landscapes in forested areas of north-west Europe with particular reference to sites in north-west France and the Netherlands. Archaeological survey, aerial photographs and documentary archives show the geography of munitions sites exhibit a regulated pattern of bunker disposition and spacing that is adapted to local road configurations and terrain. Nonhardened bunkers form the predominant feature in munitions depots and conform to a five-/six-fold typology defined by non-invasive survey and excavated examples from the Netherlands. The typology reflects an evolution of storage protocols towards all-round protection from the effects of weather and blast, but also reveals variation in size, structural characteristics and function that poses questions for further study. It is anticipated that these results will be of diagnostic value in future Second World War conflict archaeological survey of German military support structures in formerly occupied territories.
Journal Name: Journal of Conflict Archaeology.
Publication Date Online: 2018
A witness in the landscape: The bombing of the Forêt domaniale des Andaines and the Normandy Campaign, NW France, 1944
David Capps-Tunwell, David G Passmore and Stephan Harrison.
Archaeological survey of well-preserved Second World War German supply depots and bomb craters from Allied air raids in the Forêt domaniale des Andaines, Normandy, has prompted an evaluation of the effectiveness of Allied intelligence gathering and tactical bombing of the German logistics network in advance of, and during the Normandy Campaign of June-August 1944. In conjunction with analysis of primary German and Allied archive sources, published historical accounts and aerial photographs we demonstrate that Allied intelligence knew of the importance of the forest as a major fuel depot and attacked it with at least 46 missions over the period 13 June – 14 August. However, landscape evidence demonstrates that only one of three fuel depot sites in the forest was successfully identified and partially destroyed by bombing. Allied intelligence efforts also failed to gather sufficient evidence to target one of the largest Seventh Army munitions depots in Normandy. Supply depots in the forest thus remained operational until late in the campaign and will have supported the German Mortain counter-offensive of 7-14 August. The limited success of Allied bombing in the Forêt domaniale des Andaines testifies to the difficulties in striking well-dispersed and camouflaged woodland facilities and supports the argument that the success of air power against German logistics efforts lay primarily in the degradation of the regional communications infrastructure and the Wehrmacht’s vehicle fleet rather than the destruction of supply dumps.
Location: DOI: 10.1177/0968344516650228
Journal Name: War in History
Publication Date: 2017
Second World War bomb craters and the archaeology of Allied air attacks in the forests of the Normandie-Maine National Park, NW France
David Capps Tunwell, David G Passmore and Stephan Harrison.
Well-preserved bomb craters in the forests of central Normandy, NW France, constitute archaeological legacies of combat inland from the D-Day beachheads that greatly extend the inventory of Second World War conflict landscapes in northwest Europe. Field survey and analysis of German and Allied documents demonstrates that bombscapes in the Forêt domaniale des Andaines and Forêt domaniale d’Ecouves reflect US Ninth Army Air Force attacks on a German fuel depot and radar installation, respectively, during June-August, 1944. One hundred and thirty-six craters are mapped, described and linked to specific air raids, bomb types and, for one raid on the 13th June, six specific participating aircraft and aircrews. These landscapes echo the impact of widespread tactical bombing against targets close to civilian population centres, and in some cases employing civilian and PoW labour. They are therefore well-placed to contribute to wider heritage narratives around the non-combatant experience of aerial warfare in WW2.
Journal Name: Journal of Field Archaeology, 41(3): 312-330, 2016
Publication Date: 2016
World War II Conflict and Post-conflict Landscapes in Northwest France: An Evaluation of the Aerial Photographic Resource’, in Stichelbaut, B. and Cowley, D. (ed.) Conflict Landscapes and Archaeology from Above, Farnham: Ashgate, Ch. 11: pp.185-204.
David G. Passmore, David Capps Tunwell and Stephan Harrison
This work explores the use of aerial photographs for investigating landscapes of World War II conflict associated with the Normandy Campaign and the bombing of German military sites in northwest France during 1943 and 1944, and also the lesser known history of landscape rehabilitation and remediation in the immediate post-war recovery period. The primary resource used was vertical aerial photographs at scales between c. 1:1,500 and 1:26,000, taken between 1945 and 1960 and accessible from the online archive hosted by the IGN. Our analysis focuses on rural areas impacted by one or more Allied air raids, either because they witnessed major Allied ground offensives or were the sites of German military installations. Areas of open agricultural land have rarely preserved any visible evidence of bomb damage, but here the photographic record enables analysis of the intensity and character of bombing and the immediate post-war remediation of farmland. Allied air raids also targeted supply depots and V-weapon facilities concealed in regional forests, and here it is demonstrated that forest clearance associated with fires and late- and post-war munitions disposal activities have combined to render formerly camouflaged military sites, bomb craters and remediation landscapes as readily visible on aerial images.
Location: ISBN 9781472464385
Publication Date: 2016
Landscape archaeology of World War Two German logistics depots in the Forêt Domaniale des Andaines, Normandy, France.
David Capps-Tunwell, David G Passmore and Stephan Harrison.
Archaeological survey in the Forêt Domaniale des Andaines has recorded nearly 900 discrete earthwork bunkers, building foundations, trenches, and other features associated with WWII German fuel, munitions and logistics depots. Documentary evidence establishes that these depots were administered from Bagnoles de l’Orne and were a key component of the Seventh Army logistics network before and during the Normandy Campaign of June-August 1944. Post-war survival of features has been remarkably good in this forested setting and it is argued that this likely constitutes one of the best-preserved and most extensive examples of a non-hardened WWII archaeological landscape yet documented in Western Europe.
Location: DOI: 10.1007/s10761-015-0287-4
Journal Name: International Journal of Historical Archaeology
Publication Date: 2015
Second World War conflict archaeology in the forests of north-west Europe
David G Passmore, Stephan Harrison and David Capps Tunwell.
Concrete fortifications have long served as battle-scarred memorials of the Second World War. The forests of north-west Europe, meanwhile, have concealed a preserved landscape of earthwork field fortifications, military support structures and bomb- and shell-craters that promise to enhance our understanding of the conflict landscapes of the 1944 Normandy Campaign and the subsequent battles in the Ardennes and Hürtgenwald forests. Recent survey has revealed that the archaeology surviving in wooded landscapes can significantly enhance our understanding of ground combat in areas covered by forest. In particular, this evidence sheds new light on the logistical support of field armies and the impact of Allied bombing on German installations.
Journal Name: Antiquity
Publication Date: 2014
Landscape of Logistics: The Archaeology and Geography of WWII German Military Supply Depots in Central Normandy, North-west France
David G Passmore, David Capps Tunwell and Stephan Harrison.
Earthworks associated with WWII German military supply depots are shown to be well preserved on the modern forest floors of the Forêt domaniale des Andaines in central Normandy, North-west France, and are located within the record of the Seventh Army logistics network developed prior to the D-Day landings in June 1944. Features are typically located alongside forest roads and tracks and collectively amount to a military archaeological landscape that extends for nearly 10 km. Pilot survey of 50 discrete features demonstrates that at least three different storage facilities are evident, with variations in the size and morphology of bunkers that are consistent with the requirements of different types of munitions, fuel, foodstuffs, and vehicles. Numerous bomb craters also record Allied attempts to destroy the facilities. It is concluded that by the standards of WWII archaeology in the North-west European theatre, the Forêt domaniale des Andaines has permitted an exceptional state of preservation for non-hardened military facilities and combat-related damage.
Location: DOI: 10.1179/1574077313Z.00000000025
Journal Name: Journal of Conflict Archaeology
Publication Date: 2013