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Remembered Today:

Maps - how accurate?


aconnolly

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Can any of the map experts comment on the accuracy of maps in terms of depicting enemy positions? I'm intersted in comments about the accuracy of both Allied and German maps in this respect. Considerable detail is often shown, but was this based on mainly on raids, prisoners, air observation etc.? Finally, how often were maps updated?

Thanks

Andrew

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I don't have enough experience of German maps to comment to be honest, but , in general, British trench maps got more accurate as the war progressed, especially during 1918.

You might find that the same trench on a 1915 map is also on a 1918er but in quite a different place. The 1918 map is the one to believe (the earlier maps were based on (possibly slightly innacurate) bases with relatively primitive survey methods. The FSC's and battalions (RE) later resurveyed all of the British front and produced extremely accurate (especially from mid 1916) maps which could be produced in various scales.

Aerial photography was a major contribution to map surveys, but ground surveys also took place. After the allied advances of 1916-17, detailed ground surveys were taken of the former German lines (along with the behind the lines British trenches). This was a major contribution to the almost spot-on accuracy of the maps of 1918 which followed the german March offensives.

Maps were updated (I'm talking about the "regular" series maps here) anywhere between never and once every 2 weeks or so depending on the location and what was happening in the locality. None regular series maps, especially those printed almost in the field, could (and I've seen a couple of examples) be updated almost daily. However, most information for the maps was usually "old news" by the time they reached the presses. Most regular series maps were about 2 weeks out of date at publication/issue, but non-regulars might only be 2 or 3 days out of date.

Hope this answers some of your questions,

Dave.

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Dave

Thanks for the detailed reply. Answers more than some of my questions! I think I can basically assume the maps used by the NZEF from the Somme onwards would generally have been pretty accurate. I've seen hand-drawn maps in various battalion records, I assume these were copied off the printed versions as the detail is often significant

Andrew

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I think I can basically assume the maps used by the NZEF from the Somme onwards would generally have been pretty accurate.

You certainly can (though, as I mentioned, how accurate the map was to "the man in the field" by the time he recieved it is another matter, especially in the more fluid operations!). The 1918ers are the best though, with almost (though never quite perfect!) 100% accuracy on all known detail (even if they may have been slightly out-of date!). Almost every kink in the lines can sometimes be shown on these!

Dave.

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