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The Italian Corps of Engineers in World War I: Innovations in Mining and Tunnel Warfare

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Part of the Advances in Military Geosciences book series (AMG)

Abstract

During World War I, miners and sappers of the Italian Corps of Engineers were engaged in challenging tunnel warfare to undermine Austro-Hungarian fortifications located in difficult high-mountain environments. On the Italian Front, the area most affected by tunnel warfare was the Dolomite sector of the Alps; more than 30 large mines blasts took place here between 1916 to 1918. The aftermath of some of these mines modified the local landscape, reshaping cliffs and peaks.

The efforts and technical challenges of the Corps are examined in this paper based on documents stored in the ISCAG Archive, the Historical and Cultural Institute of the Italian Corps of Engineers in Rome. These documents allowed the reconstruction of methods, engineering concepts, technical innovations, and strategies of the Corps itself. A large number of documents concern “listening” methods and instruments, as well as descriptions of mechanical drilling equipment. As for listening, the application of geophysical methods, still in their infancy at the time, involved the technological development and construction of geophones, recording “microseismophones,” and several other devices.

Keywords

  • World War I
  • Tunnel warfare
  • Corps of Engineers
  • Military mining

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Fig. 7.1

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Correspondence to Paolo Macini .

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Macini, P., Sammuri, P. (2022). The Italian Corps of Engineers in World War I: Innovations in Mining and Tunnel Warfare. In: Bondesan, A., Ehlen, J. (eds) Military Geoscience: A Multifaceted Approach to the Study of Warfare. Advances in Military Geosciences. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-79260-2_7

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