Object of the Month:
Fred Shotton's Normandy Landing Maps

Carrie - a work experience student -  talks about her choice of object of the month.


Title: Shotton map - lapworth Museum of Geology - Object of the Month

Duration: 2.16 mins

Speaker Names (if given): S1 Carrie, work experience student

S1 My name's Carrie and I go to King Edward the Sixth school for girls just across the road from here and I was here for a week during the summer to do work experience and as part of this I studied these maps and several objects to write up an Object of the Month piece for them.

So this map is a map of Normandy, well part of Normandy beaches and it was produced by, partly, Professor Frederick Shotton. He was a Professor of Geology here at the University of Birmingham and before he got into making maps he was involved in studying the Pleistocene period in the East Midlands. So when it came to during the war he moved into the Middle East to study finding water for British troops and then when the Normandy landings came up they needed to work out where they were landing and whether they were going to sink if they drove tanks around. So he was involved in planning and finding these beaches that they could land on and also finding a similar British beach that they could practice on. So this is what this map shows. It's part of the Anglo-Canadian invasion area and all around here you've got areas of sand where they say you can't land because there's yielding areas hidden under clay and pools of water.

These photos show the British beaches where they practiced. There's bombing trials here so that they could see what kind of craters they created, how that affected the surrounding areas of beach. We got some papers here which show his report of where he wrote up where the best places to land would be and where they shouldn’t land and maybe other things he's seen when he flew over the Normandy beaches. Because one of the ways he found this information was he modified a Mosquito aircraft; he put a glass bottom on the fuselage that enabled him, when he flew over the beaches, to actually physically look on the beach and see whether there were buildings there, things that weren't showning on maps.

In my opinion, one of the most ingenious methods he used was he looked at the tyre tracks that vehicles on that beach had made so he could see how far they had sunk and what kind of shapes they've made in the beach and then he could work out what shapes, and whether they would sink or be able to move easily, what the British tanks and vehicles would do.