Table 8.

Well Boring Administration—Water Finding Methods

1. During the last 2.5 years some 20 miles [32 km] of boreholes have been drilled in [the] Middle East. Of these drilled in search of water 60% were successful in an area remarkable for its lack of drinking water. Certain conclusions have been reached as a result of this experience and changes are being proposed in the Well Boring organization of MIDDLE EAST [COMMAND] to incorporate the results of this experience [i.e. to group Boring Sections into Boring Companies].
2. The first point that has emerged is that water diviners should on no account be employed. From time to time Officers, Members of Dowsing Societies, have managed, by virtue of their position, to influence the siting of boreholes, particularly where geological advice was not obtainable. The percentage of successes in these cases is only 13, i.e. 87% failures.
3. It is necessary to mention the serious failures of these water diviners as reports have been published in the U.S.A. that a class of hazel twig diviners is under instruction in MIDDLE EAST. Moreover a geophysical water prospecting party belonging to a MIDDLE EAST unit (42 Geological Section S.A.E.C.) which has just returned from an arduous task searching for water in PERSIA and BALUCHISTAN reports its activities were declared, particularly in BALUCHISTAN, to be the work of a water divining party. It is emphasised that the use of water diviners is considered to be a serious mistake which will lead to useless unintelligent boring and prevent the employment of methods based on reason and Scientific Research.
4. The method employed for locating wells in MIDDLE EAST, where drinking water is very difficult to obtain, involves the use of geologists and geophysicists. Very full experience has now been obtained in the use of geophysical methods in detecting water, from simple service tests which give the probable depth and salinity with better accuracy than any other method yet tried in MIDDLE EAST. In addition to earth resistivity methods, magnetometer methods have been used successfully on a few occasions by geophysicists searching for water in MIDDLE EAST.
5. The apparatus used by these geophysicists is cheap and portable. It could readily be made part of a Well-Boring Section or Company if Officers were trained in its use.
6. It is felt that this MIDDLE EAST experience of geophysical methods of prospecting for drinkable water is unique and a small number of geologists in MIDDLE EAST are now about to be trained in geophysical water prospecting methods so that this experience will be made full use of. Training will be done by O.C. [Officer Commanding] 42 Geological Section S.A.E.C., acting under G.H.Q., M.E.F. The course is suitable for trained geologists only.
7. It is thought that you may wish to send one or more Officers to take advantage of the long experience of these geophysicists to enable you to put water prospecting on a modern basis while the highly trained organization exists in 42 Geological Section, S.A.E.C.
  • Text of letter dated 7 December 1942, from Director of Works, Middle East Forces, to the Engineer-in-Chief at General Headquarters India and to the E-in-C at GHQ PAIFORCE (Persia and Iran Force). Appendix 6 to a report filed at the National Archives as WO 201/2812.