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SBechtel

Map - Battle of Hill 70

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SBechtel

Hi,

 

I've recently acquired a rather interesting map, and am curious if any contributors here have experience with such a piece:

From my research thus far, it appears to be a planning map for the assault on Hill 70 by the 1st Canadian Division, just east of Loos, France in August, 1917. 

It is printed in purple ink, orientated facing east, and of the scale 1:2500.

It depicts the grid areas H31C, H31D, N1A, and N1B (36cSW1).

 

Visible are the fronts of the Canadian and German positions before the assault, the Netley Trench beyond, and the "Blue Line" second objective (actually indicated in blue crayon) on the west foot of Hill 70 .Also depicted in green crayon and black pen are the creeping barrage plans, which appear to line up with those of the Barrage Maps for the initial assault on August 15. 

 

M.G. emplacements, T.M.'s, and local H.Q.'s are drawn in pencil and blue or green crayon throughout.

 

I cannot seem to find much information on works of this nature - has anyone encountered them before? 

 

Thank you!

 

Hill 70 (upright).jpg

Hill 70 (North Up).jpg

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JohnC

Nice map. I would guess that this was made by the local Field Survey Company and reproduced behind the lines using a mimeograph duplicator such as an Ellams. The original might have been pantographed from a standard 1:10,000 trench map or perhaps made by plane table survey. By 1917 the army's survey and mapmaking infrastructure was remarkably extensive, easily capable of producing bespoke maps very quickly. These little special-purpose maps are rare survivors. Compared to regular trench maps they had a very short shelf life, perhaps just a day or two. It's easy to imagine that after their immediate purpose was served there were many uses for little squares of paper. Peter Chasseaud's book Artillery's Astrologers is a most comprehensive source of information about Western Front mapmaking. Last time I looked Naval & Military Press had new copies available.

John

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Howard

Some hand drawn maps survived the war but not many. As John says, Peter Chasseaud's book describes the situation very well. Part of the problem was that a lot of maps were printed by the Ordnance Survey in Southampton so the time it took to take updates from aerial photos, take those to Southampton and have them added by hand, editions printed and transported back to the front was often a lot longer than local operations required. Efforts were made for local printing but the machines were large and heavy and the fear was that if the Germans broke through they would be lost. As a result smaller more portable machines were used in France but this meant smaller maps.

As a result you see a lot of officially printed maps with hand additions but sometimes these were no use so enterprising officers would make their own. Some are surprisingly good. They are often on the back on an older map, paper was in short supply on both sides. Many hand drawn maps were traced, some sketched.

It is an interesting exercise to try to make one’s own. One day I sat down at home in a comfortable, warm environment with modern pens and singularly failed to get as good a quality as some Great War hand drawn maps, remembering they may have been drawn in a dugout by candle light, bow-pen with Indian ink, rats running round and those beastly Germans shelling all the time. That is when the dry subject of mapping means a lot to me. I am frequently awed by their achievement.

Here is another example and the OP map after a bit pf Photoshop.

 

Howard

handdrawn.jpg

handdrawn2.jpg

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SBechtel

Thanks John and Howard! I will look into Chasseaud's work for more information!

 

I've attached a complete battle map and indicated the specific area I believe this front line map depicts -

 

I'm still trying to work out what the orange and yellow crayon lines proceeding from the Allied front line to the Blue Line objective represent - perhaps boundaries for separate battalions in the advance?

 

 

Hill 70 1.jpg

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Howard

The map style looks rather like an Official History map, is this map post-war?

 

Howard

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battle of loos

good morning,

 

Interesting map.


I am interested in the various battles that took place in Loos.
I live in Loos and know the front line very well.

What are the dimensions of this map.

 

if interested, I can take pictures of the map area these days.

 

Kind regards

 

Michel

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battle of loos

good morning,

 

here's an overlay on google earth :

 

1.jpg.cfda31c894cf4f8f512dbd085714b56e.jpg

 

2.jpg.815e7b8067c5618aa45cb99ab63f91f0.jpg

 

3.jpg.cb0421cd44348b47d7cac7be42250ca0.jpg

 

1410619027_3-Copie.jpg.c45024b2d1c23a40969a0f369ec82f57.jpg

 

Kind regards

 

Michel

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battle of loos

good morning,


here are pictures of the same area (taken this morning) :

 

1974209007_3-Copie.jpg.bb6923340a21ccd1620554a011f09a82.jpg

 

Kind regards

Michel

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battle of loos

1.JPG.0e3c4e75db4e124492aba2e03e2407b4.JPG

2.JPG.fe3dd71a4cbc74d3ff2cbbba0ca5954a.JPG

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battle of loos

3.JPG.da922ecee911e8ce3e0c0668033b812a.JPG

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battle of loos

4.JPG.47a93dd5e0d2e21e3fb77cf1b69b7827.JPG

5.JPG.f4fded222521a2279810d3a82fb29fa7.JPG

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battle of loos

6.JPG.d6a89615dc193cc1b3b49fb7c7eb37ec.JPG

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battle of loos

7.JPG.6d2a4a5a582b53922782009566d05dd1.JPG

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battle of loos

8.JPG.897dd3d43180542cb0d0b979c55887ba.JPGDSC_0005.JPG.4a487ac999a327f04da18238b09a50da.JPGDSC_0006.JPG.d0c8fb3d89ec4dc7a070fb3068c55118.JPG

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Howard

You might like to see if you can recreate these two panoramic photos,

1. Taken from 36C A.15.c.1.8

2. Taken from West of Givenchy

3.  This is a secret and very detailed map dated just before the Sept 1915 battle of Loos.

All these are on the WFA Mapping the Front DVDs.

Howard

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KernelPanic
On 04/09/2019 at 12:10, JohnC said:

... Peter Chasseaud's book Artillery's Astrologers is a most comprehensive source of information about Western Front mapmaking. Last time I looked Naval & Military Press had new copies available.

John

 

On 05/09/2019 at 02:56, Howard said:

... As John says, Peter Chasseaud's book describes the situation very well.  ...

Howard

 

Thanks John and Howard for pointing out Chasseaud's book. This is a topic that interests me greatly so I'll look into getting a copy.

 

In the meantime I came across a recent article of his that appears to be an update (or at least a summary) of his work on WW1 military mapping. It maybe available as a free download if you have access to an academic library. I found it very interesting and useful.

British military mapping on the Western Front 1914 18 p1.jpg

Edited by KernelPanic

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Howard

That is an interesting summary and of course he cannot put in much more owing to space but two critical points need to be made. First, the French were perhaps 100 years ahead of Britain in mapping, the Ordnance Survey was not so much designed or brought into existence by government, it grew from the efforts of a number of key people such as Col. Roy and was passed around various government departments without any clear direction or policy. From the start there were two factions, those who wanted to map the UK and like Roy, started in Scotland and those who felt the threat was from the French so mapping the South coast was of first importance. As is usual with little direction, not everything worked well. Where the French lead was lost was when they stuck with their truly dreadful 1:80,000 monochrome maps and kept the existence of their excellent Plans Directeur full colour 1:20,000 series either a secret from the new allies or forgot they existed. The result was that the British had to undertake a complete geodetic re-survey of the front starting just before the Battle of Loos when the map crisis became very clear. The maps of the Loos area that are not the result of this re-survey were re-drawn from the 1;80,000 maps and hence were very inaccurate, useless for artillery.

The second point from his summary that is interesting is to claim the Germans were in advance of the British yet in his own work he outlines how they were oddly not prepared for a European war and how they scrabbled around for maps during their invasion. At least the British had the channel as an excuse here. Their Schlieffen Plan maps are small scale and useless for a static infantry war, they had not planned for being stalled. Almost all the hundreds of German maps I have are overprints on Belgian and French maps, many of those over the nasty 1:80,000 series. There is not all that much evidence of a good quality old survey or of a new survey so whilst their cartographic skills may have been of a high order, I have yet to see the result, at least for the British sector of the front. Their habit of using the maps of other nations extended to the second world war, many of the German invasion plans were British Ordnance Survey maps with a German overprint. (One even retained the "Copyright Ordnance Survey"!)

In the post war Report on Survey on the Western Front, its author, Col. Jack, was very rude about the French cartography, he paid respects to their Plans Directeur but otherwise pointed out how their cartographic efforts had been compromised by muddle and significant amounts of error. That of course may the century’s old antagonism against the French but I doubt it, it is an objective and professional report (and for its time, surprising readable). I have a copy on my website here.

Howard

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JohnC

Some very interesting points.

One reason that French cartography stagnated was because of Napoleon. He declared that maps were a weapon of war, and and effectively stalled their survey and production, which up to that point was pioneered by civilians. Meanwhile the Ordnance Survey in the UK was setting about the first national survey. One reason that the French and German armies may have been better issued with maps was because they were on their home ground, and at least at the outset the German army knew where they were heading for.

In terms of cartography, rather than the organisation of map distribution to forces, by WW1 the OS had a century of experience of producing maps of the UK for a defensive war at scales of up to 25" to a mile. The quality of OS maps outstripped anything produced on a mass scale in France or Germany.

For August 1914 the Germany army was issued with a set of maps covering Belgium and NE France, derived from those nation's own products. On reaching the Marne they had outstripped their map coverage, supply of new sheets fell behind the pace of advance. They were in uncharted land. Jurgen Espenhorst has suggested that this lack of geographical awareness was a significant factor in the German defeat.

I think the remarkable fact is not that the survey departments failed to predict the need for maps suitable for static warfare, but that they reacted so quickly when the need materialised.

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JohnC

Hello Howard,

Very nicely put in your original reply. I also find these maps fascinating. I'll open a new topic to avoid further deflection from the OP.

J

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SBechtel

Thank you Michel for the overlays and pictures of the area!

It's amazing to see that the roadways shown on this tactical map are now modern roads! Looks like Hill 70 itself is now an industrial park...

 

I still haven't found any reference to large-scale tactical maps (or plans) of a specific operational nature like this - I've gone through two of Chasseaud's works (haven't been able to get a hold of Artillery's Astrologers yet) but have found no mention or similar depictions thus far. 

 

 

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SBechtel
On 05/09/2019 at 13:03, Howard said:

The map style looks rather like an Official History map, is this map post-war?

 

Howard

 

Yes, this map is commonly found on a google search for 'Hill 70' - it appears to have been created by the Historical Section (General Staff) for the Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War by G.W.L. Nicholson. It seems to be one of the only small scale maps that actually indicates the exact position of the Hill. 

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JohnC

I suspect you will struggle to find much in the way of references. Regular trench maps were produced by an established organisation, which was documented at the time and has been researched since. Tactical maps like yours were made ad-hoc, perhaps never archived outside of a unit's war diary, and surviving in tiny numbers (relatively). I suspect that you are already the world expert on your map! It's a fascinating aspect of mapping and I've opened a separate thread to capture Forum members' thoughts and material.

J

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