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Remembered Today:

Trench Map References


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Hi Folks

I would like a simple opinion on something relating to trench map co-ordinates.

I have been researching family interests (NZEF Sept 1916) for some years now and I keep coming back to a possible ambiguity in a particular Map ref.

I should point out that I do know how to read these maps.

The reference in question is written thus 57c.M.24.a.99. See image. Not sure if this upload (Burial Return Document 2062233) is allowed but I guess I'll find out!

Until now I have presumed this to mean in effect 57c.M.24.a.9.9. An archivist at CWGC concurred.

As the last digits were often expanded to provide a much greater degree of accuracy, and having viewed many other such documents in recent days I am now wondering if this reference could be interpreted as 57c.M.24.a.99.(00)

Given the situation of the fighting (quite detailed unit reports, NZ Division) on 1,2,3 Oct 1916 and frontline that resulted from that fighting, the difference in actual locations on the ground (450yds) using these two possible references is very

significant, ie behind German lines or not.

There exists a quite detailed witness account of Lt. Cowie's (3rd from bottom on the Burial Return and my Great Uncle) last sighting, severely wound, later listed as killed in action.

I have visited the area many times and will be again doing so in September with family members from NZ.

It would be great to have settled this question by then. I am tending to stick with the original interpretation, but would value other opinions.



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I read the reference for where body was found as


' Is this the reference you are looking at.?

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Sorry for not looking properly.

I was also looking at for grave 29.

It shows British Soldier but not his name although the entry says his name was on the original grave.

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Hi Cran

I believe 99 should read 9.9 I have yet to see a GRU document use a 4 digit reference.

This is a link to a previous thread on a similar topic


Your reference is longer than in that thread and appears to include a sub sheet reference after the sheet number and before the reference for the square, nothing like the modern NATO system. the most counter intuitive part is that the vertical reference is read bottom to top of the square rather than the modern top to bottom.

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From the concentration report of other 2/Wellington men who died on 2nd October 1916, and are buried in the cemetery:

10/3178 Baker - 57c.S.W.M.24.a.9.0

10/3240 Dobbyn - 57c.S.W.M.24.a.9.0

10/628 Fisher - ??

11/1546 Fitzgerald - 57c.S.W.M.24.a.8.9

11486 Jordan - 57c.S.W.M.24.a.0.9

23/2055 Nicholls - Sh.57c.S.W.M.18.c.5.4

In your case, it makes me wonder if whoever compiled an original (presumably) handwritten list, passed it through for typing on the assumption that the last digits would be split, but that the typist literally typed what they saw. 9.9 would though seem to put him forward (along with Fitzgerald) of what I understood was the initial line of objective for the attack.



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