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Imperial Hubris


infantry

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I came across this paragraph in a report prepared in May 1905. This is the most concise statement of the mentality behind the Dardanelles/Gallipoli campaign as far as I'm concerned. If I've come across this before I'd have used it in my book.

Cheers

DSCN0525.JPG

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If the ground had "been studied and accurately surveyed by British officers", it is a great shame that their survey data did not result in the publication of accurate maps.

I georeferenced over 300 maps of Gallipoli for the TrenchMapper project and found what may be charitably described as an approximate fit to reality in some of the British maps. A few of the Admiralty charts even go so far as inventing new land in places, especially around the Gulf of Saros. That is odd as a coastal survey, even one from on board a survey vessel should have got the coastline about right even if inland it was a bit out.

Howard

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Mate,

Its very funny when you think about it.

Even the Ottomans had not done this and were just as in the dark as we were.

A large number of German special Troops arrived during the war to do some of this work for them, but in 1914-15 little had been done.

S.B

The ones I record are mostly later when the 27 Survy unit arrvied with Pasha II 

Hinrichs    ObLt deR Eng (Capt)    Ingenieur (Engineer officer) - (Vermessungs abteilung 27) - Filistin'de Haritaci (Cartographer in Palestine) - shown 27th Survey (Engineers) - 27th Survey Unit 
Hoven von     ObLt Eng    Ingenieur (Engineer officer) - Yildirim ordusunda kartograf (Cartographer Yildirim Army)
Windhoff    Dr    Cartogragher & surveyor Airforce shown Flieger-Abteilung 300 4-16 - Flieger-Abteilung 300

But numbers show up before that with the Navy and Airforce

Hommel Adolf    KaptzS Marine    MMD (Military Mediterranean Division) att Coastal Survey Inspectorate for sights on the guns to Liasion officer to the 5th Army to Factory manager and draughtsman in the Armaments Insprctorate
Andreae (Andre)    Capt Dr Eng    Ingenieur Prof.Dr. Harita uzmani (Map specialist) Map officer Staff Yildirim - Survey Engineer

Just to name a few I have

S.B

To digress, We (Australia) also had this problem in 1942 when the fighting began in PNG and we had poor maps of the GB Reef and Coral Sea, so a great survey was started to fill in the many gaps. that by the end of the war, many were still is use and updated over the years.

 

Edited by stevenbecker
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13 hours ago, infantry said:

a report prepared in May 1905.

It would be good to know who's report [& hubris] this came from 

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15 hours ago, michaeldr said:

There were also those who disagreed, as pointed out by Dr Yusuf A. Ozkan – see his paper https://doi.org/10.1080/02684527.2022.2055936

I know Yusuf's article and claims. Looks like he was not aware of this report while writing the article. Most probably he focused on 1906 crisis and did not pay attention military speculations before. 

3 hours ago, michaeldr said:

It would be good to know who's report [& hubris] this came from 

The name of the author is not available on the report. But from the cover it's apparent it was prepared by DMO staff

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A couple of questions arise to me:-

1/ Would a survey like this be carried out from ship or shore?

2/ What rank of British officer would be entrusted/saddled with such work?

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7 hours ago, PhilB said:

A couple of questions arise to me:-

1/ Would a survey like this be carried out from ship or shore?

2/ What rank of British officer would be entrusted/saddled with such work?

The Admiralty mainly surveyed from a vessel as they were only concerned with coastlines (and depths) but sometimes they went ashore.

Surveyors were nearly always officers assisted by knowledgeable NCOs although on the Western Front there were NCOs who did surveys. It requires quite rigorous training.

I have not checked but I assume many (most?) such people were recruited directly from the Ordnance Survey which unlike now was a hybrid civil/military organisation.

The Ottomans had done a good quality survey at 1:25,000 which was published very close to the start of the campaign. The full set of sheets pertinent to the campaign are on TrenchMapper. For an example, right click and choose Gallipoli, right click again and choose Map ID Jump using m_95_000079. The series was photographed in mono-chrome so the original colours are lost. They contain original Ottoman script which few speak but I am tld that People from Armenia can read it if you need to.

Howard

Name: Turkish series, scanned from photographs
Sheet:
Scale: 1:25,000
Edition: Negative number 20221. [1912]
Id: m_95_000079

 

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Howard,

Thanks mate, I read that Ottoman maps were very poor with limilted details on both land and sea.

S.B

PS

I notice this on the great man, General Mehmet Sevki Efendi (Ölçer) 

he was appointed to the Map Commission (1894), which was established under the 5th branch of the General Staff. In this commission, experts and tools were brought with high salaries from the French military geography department to assist with technical work. In the commission, together with Mehmet Hakkı Güncan, with whom they were educated in Paris , one of the teachers of the Military Academy, Kur. Asst. There was consent. Commission, Bayezid MosqueHe started his work in the old gendarmerie office next to it. This commission is accepted as the basis of modern computational cartography in Turkey

Maybe the French had these great maps and not the British?

But then again

After this date, he left Istanbul and went to Eskişehir to carry out field studies with the mapping commission. He started a triangulation- based mapping project in Eskişehir . For triangulation, the base was measured, astronomical observations were made, and absolute gravity was measured with a pendulum. [5] However, this project was unsuccessful. He attributed the failure of the mapping project to the "dictatorship". The map commission did not do any fieldwork after this date. The French officers brought in for commission work returned after 4 unproductive years.

So how good were these Ottoman maps?

until all the maps were gone over after the battle by Sevki  and the German mappers

The maps mention ed by Howard good quality survey at 1:25,000 of 1912 however they were corrected after the battle by Sevki

So are the maps the old (1912) or the new updated (1916) maps.

Edited by stevenbecker
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Hi guys

Some of the map production was carried out by the Survey of Egypt.

I have a pdf history of the Survey of Egypt and they were involved in production of mapping in the eastern Med, Palestine, Iraq etc.

 The Survey of Egypt ; 1898-1948. (1950) GW Murray
"Upon the outbreak ot hostilities, a few officials from the Survey
were lent to the British Army tor survey work. Their number gradually
increased and, in August 1915, a party, recruited from the Survey,
complete with printing machinery and photographic apparatus, was sent
to Iraq. These sections were pioneers in the preparation of maps from
air photographs. All the trench plans of Gallipoli and the map ot Iraq,
on the scale of six inches to the mile, used by General Maude in his
advance on Baghdad, were compiled from air photographs by these sections.
(p3-4)

"Meanwhile, in Cairo, the survey Department supplied all the maps of
Egypt required by the British Army and, at the beginning of the Gallipoli
campaign, it undertook the compilation and printing of the maps
for those operations. Useful assistance was also given to the Hydrographic
Department ot the British Admiralty throughout the war by the
printing of large numbers ot charts and the loan, for brief periods, of experts in reproduction
."(p4)

I can also recommend the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) website. I always look at their great collection of country specific pdfs on Grids & Datums, which include a potted history of survey in different countries.
They can be accessed here:
https://www.asprs.org/asprs-publications/grids-and-datums

The one for Turkey is here
https://www.asprs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/09-16-GD-Turkey.pdf

cheers
Dom.

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Şevki Paşa is rightly seen as a huge figure in the world of cartography, especially in Turkey. After the evacuation he headed a team to create a 43 sheet 1:5,000 series of maps documenting the trenches and other features before they vanished. These are incredibly detailed and accurate but the survey was based on the 1:25,000 series. I wrote a fair bit on that, now available on the Help->Knowledge Centre in TrenchMapper.

All 43 1:5,000 are on TrenchMapper.

Howard

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Howard,

Cheers mate.

Yes it (the old map) would have been used as a base to start the new maps.

Its a wonder, as complaints from all over the empire still went on during the war, from Caucusus to Mespot and Palestine

That's why so many German and Ottoman mappers were moving and working all over the Empire.

Its an area not looked at in any detail, the large work done at this time.

S.B

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There are reports that the British knew of the good Ottoman 1:25,000 survey being carried out but an intelligence failure led to none of the sheets being secured for or by the British.

Shame really but then hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The British maps by the Survey of Egypt are printed with acknowledgement to the cartographic errors. Grids not being rectilinear, errors in bearings, heights etc. Relative to what happened on the WF, the output was very poor. There was not even a campaign area standardised grid system with map references- a rich recipe for confusion.

Howard

se3.jpg

se2.jpg

se1.jpg

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I have read some time ago I think in one of Chatterton's books that the waters around Gallipoli were not that well charted.

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13 hours ago, James A Pratt III said:

the waters around Gallipoli were not that well charted.

Some idea of this may be gained from the Mitchell Report, Chapter 19, page 522>, of which the following is the preamble:-

SECTION I.—SYNOPSIS OF SURVEYING WORK UNDERTAKEN IN PREPARATION FOR BOMBARDMENTS AND COUNTER-BATTERY WORK.

(1) The position of affairs as regards knowledge of the Peninsula, coast, soundings, etc., and the maps available in February, 1915, was that the knowledge of the western side of the Gallipoli Peninsula, the principal area from a point of view of Naval war operations, was most inadequate ; the coast was incorrectly charted and the soundings were not only sparse, but did not in any way give an idea of the configuration of the sea bottom.

The reason for this was that no detailed survey of this area had ever been made, a survey by Captain Graves in 1840 having been confined to the immediate approaches to the Dardanelles and the Island of Tenedos, with the Archipelago and waters contiguous to it. The maps supplied by the G.S.G.S. (squared and numbered) were admittedly imperfect and operations charts prepared by the Hydrographic Department of the Admiralty from the Admiralty charts also squared and numbered with a view to Naval gunfire, were also based on imperfect work. Moreover, there was no common system of squaring or numbering of the two departments’ productions.

The inadequacy of these maps and charts was fully recognised by the Hydrographic Department of the Admiralty, and on information being received that active operations in this area were contemplated, Commander H. P. Douglas, Superintendent of Charts at the Admiralty was appointed as Surveying Officer on the staff of the V.A.C.E.M.S., with a view to endeavouring to rectify matters on the spot. He arrived at the Dardanelles on 24th February, 1915. The only data this officer had at his disposal were proofs of the Naval operations chart already referred to, the G.S.G.S. maps, and knowledge of the extent to which the surveys of Captain Graves 1840, could be considered accurate. In this connection, it should be noted that the surveys of this area by Captain Graves not only provided the basis of all later work in 1915, but were found to be most accurate both as regards scale and bearing. Thus, the Surveyor of 1915 was able to extend the survey of 1840 with every assurance that his work was on a sound basis.

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The woeful mapping and intelligence situation prior to the campaign is set out in great detail in Grasping Gallipoli: Terrain, Maps and Failure at the Dardanelles, 1915 by Peter Chasseaud and Peter Doyle.

One way of sidestepping the lack of British survey would have been by using the good quality Turkish maps prepared immediately before the war but the lack of an adequate British intelligence regime meant that opportunity was missed.

It is interesting to compare the situation on the WF where one or two key individuals made the difference. The entire mapping organisation for that front in August 1914 was one officer and one assistant- hardly a good start but look at what developed at amazing speed. On the Eastern front there was muddle and confusion and a complete failure to grasp the significance of a good survey.

Were there lessons learnt? I doubt it. On the day the task force was to sail for the Falklands campaign in 1982, a young female naval lieutenant rushed to Stanford’s map shop then in Long Acre in London to buy up all the maps of the Falklands. In the planning for D-Day in 1944 the British government held a competition for the best holiday photos of the European coast, “to keep up morale”- it was nothing of the sort, they wanted photos for reconnaissance because their own set was so lacking. Mind you, the D-Day maps were brilliant.

Howard

 

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In the 1983 Grenada operation the US had a problem in getting maps to the forces involved  they arrived after the operation was over. I believe one one of the US ships there was an officer who owned a yacht and had sailed down their some years before and lucky for the US he had a copy of a tourist map in his quarters!? It was copied and handed out. Of course there were no grid squares so telling people where you were ect was a problem!?

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James

Yes I mentioned the GB Reef and Coral Sea in 1942, as our maps were left over from Cook in 1770 and not much done after that to up grade.

A little was done in the Great war, as our forces had to sail from Qld Ports to capture NG from the Germans in 1914

S.B

Edited by stevenbecker
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On 08/04/2023 at 02:19, Howard said:

The woeful mapping and intelligence situation prior to the campaign is set out in great detail in Grasping Gallipoli: Terrain, Maps and Failure at the Dardanelles, 1915 by Peter Chasseaud and Peter Doyle.

Available on the Internet Archive as a Book to Borrow. (Uploaded recently 16 March 2023)

https://archive.org/details/graspinggallipol0000chas/mode/2up

Maureen

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