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Trench Maps


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The (British) Imperial War Museum, in conjunction with the Naval and Miltary Press, has released a CD on trench maps of the First World War. An extensive description of trench maps and their development is available on their website. The description is very much from a British perspective but it suggests that all the combatants’ maps followed similar developments at the same time.

From the website: “It was forbidden to show British trenches, as it was feared that maps might fall into enemy hands. This misplaced attempt at security resulted in troops being deprived of maps of their own increasingly labyrinthine trench system, and much swearing and confusion resulted. Worse, the front-line troops made their own manuscript maps, including all sorts of vital but secret information, which could easily be captured by the enemy in raids. The ludicrous situation developed in which units had to capture the enemy’s maps in order to find the plan of their own trenches! It was gradually admitted that the Germans were quite capable of making maps of the allied trenches, having aeroplanes and cameras, the allies having nothing like air superiority.”

No examples of the trench maps are available on the Naval and Military Press website but you can purchase the CD for £85 + taxes and shipping.

Other websites have some examples of trench maps, including smithmaps and Map Room.

By way of Great Map.


3 Responses to “Trench Maps”

  1. Anonymous Guy Smith 

    You may be interested to hear that we are building a new product containing large numbers of trench maps.
    The new system will be georeferenced, will work in France and Belgium with GPS on pda and pc, and will provide 3D views of the battlefields.
    Developement is ongoing, but basic product testing is complete. Please register your interest at http://www.greatwardigital.com for further information.
    Guy Smith

  2. Anonymous Guy Smith 

    Update: 30th April 2006

    In 2001 I had a GIS system tested and working in Belgium and France that was returning real time co ordinates across the entire front line from Ypres to the Somme, on original tyrench mapping.

    Recent developments in software and memory capability, have allowed us to develop an entirely new product, that will far outstrip the capabilities if the previous CD.

    The new system is being developed by a UK company, Great War Digital Ltd, and is only months from completion. If the full product is purchased, it works with GPS, it is useable in the fields on a PDA, it will interface with modern mapping and aerial photography, and will have the capability to display 3D views of the battlefields (only for France at present). The map list is now totalling some 900 maps, and is growing daily, and will be a major contribution to Great War understanding.

    The web site is http://www.greatwardigital.com, and interest in the product can be registered on line.

    Many Thanks
    Guy Smith
    e mail guy@trenchmap.com

  3. Anonymous xhsjo xmundavf 

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