WWI Trench Maps & Aerial Photographs


WWI Trench Maps & Aerial Photographs

WWI Maps & Photos

WWI Trench Maps and Aerial Photographs: Home Page

Permitted Use of the Map and Aerial Photo Images:

McMaster University Library is providing digital access, and the ability to download high resolution copies (600 dpi, 1GB .TIF) of these archival items for non-commercial purposes only. For allowable use of the images found on this website, see the Creative Commons License.

France & Belgium:

Aerial Photographs (all scales)

Trench Maps: 1:10,000 scale (preferred by Infantry) and 1:20,000 (preferred by artillery)

Topographic Maps: 1:40,000 scale (preferred by Officers for Planning) printed in 5 colours but with no trenches shown

Topographic Maps: 1:100,000 scale (Planning over large areas) printed in 5 colours but with no trenches shown

Topographic Maps: 1:250,000 scale (Planning over large areas) printed in 5 colours but with no trenches shown

Thematic Maps: various scales (Logistics) showing hospitals, aerodromes, supply dumps, training areas...

Other Theatres of War:

Maps of various scales covering portions of Africa, Gallipoli, The Middle East, The Balkans, Italy, Russia...

About the Maps

About the WWI Maps

Beginning in the early 1970s, McMaster University Library made several large purchases of books and related material from British booksellers like Bertram Rota and acquired several large private collections such as the Cholmondeley and Stuart collections. Amongst the items acquired were several hundred World War I maps and aerial photographs. Over the following decades donations, both small and large, were added to this original core of a collection resulting in a total of approximately 460 maps and 580 photos by the time this website was first launched in 2003.

In 2009, with financial assistance from the Canadian Heritage Ministry, McMaster University Library acquired the private collection of the world's foremost expert on WWI cartography, Dr. Peter Chasseaud of Lewes, Sussex, England. It was believed to be the largest and most comprehensive collection in private hands numbering almost 900 maps. This accrual brought McMaster's total to nearly 1,500 making it the largest collection in Canada (excluding Archives Canada) and the largest, online collection in the world.

Nationality: most of the maps were produced by the British Ordnance Survey for the Allied forces, although a few German, French and other maps purchased privately by officers exist within the collection.

Map Scale: they range in scale from very detailed operations maps used for trench raids to very broad overview maps used to show the entire front. The majority of the collection is made up of 1:10,000 scale "trench maps ", 1:20,000 scale "artillery maps", and 1:40,000 scale "officer's planning maps".

Temporal Coverage: the bulk of the collection is from the latter part of the war in the years 1917 and 1918 when map production had increased dramatically. Many are of the Canadian sector of the front during the so-called "Last Hundred Days" of the war (August 1918 - November 1918).

Geographic Coverage: as the collection is almost exclusively made up of British mapping, coverage is limited to the British sector of the Western Front extending from the English Channel in the north to the vicinity of Reims in the south.

About the Aerial Photos

About the Aerial Photos

Beginning in the early 1970s, McMaster University Library made several large purchases of books and related material from British booksellers like Bertram Rota. Amongst the items purchased were several hundred World War I maps and aerial photographs. Over the following decades donations, both small and large, were added to this original core of a collection resulting in a total of approximately 460 maps and 580 photos by the time this website was first launched in 2003.

Nationality: almost all of the aerial photographs were produced by the [British] Royal Flying Corps (renamed Royal Air Force when it merged with the Royal Naval Air Service in 1918). However, a few French and German examples exist within the collection.

Temporal Coverage: the bulk of the collection is from the latter part of the war in the years 1917 and 1918 when the technology of aerial photography had improved dramatically.

Geographic Coverage: coverage is scattered over much of the British sector in northeastern France and Belgium but there is a higher concentration of photography in areas around Ypres, Meteren, Messines, Lille and  Wytschaete with some coverage around areas such as Albert, Cambrai, the Hindenburg line, Canal du Nord and Cuinchy brick stacks.

Perspective: the vast majority of photographs were taken from a vertical perspective with only about 90 taken at oblique angles.

Unique Details: approximately 350 photographs in the collection have hand annotations ranging from simple circles indicating the location of important features on the recto to full, textual descriptions on the verso. Approximately 90 additional photographs are mounted in an Album acquired from the University of Alberta.

References:

References

Beach, J. (2013). Haig's intelligence: GHQ and the German Army, 1916-1918. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bragg, Sir Lawrence, Dowson, A. H., Hemming, H. H. Artillery Survey in the First World War. Elstree: Field Survey Association, 1971.

Chasseaud, Peter. Artillery's Astrologers: A History of British Survey & Mapping on the Western Front 1914-1918. Lewes: Mapbooks, 1999.

Chasseaud, Peter. "British artillery and Trench Maps on the Western Front 1914-1918." The Map Collector v.51 (1990): 24-32

Chasseaud, Peter. "German Maps and Survey on the Western Front, 1914-1918." The Cartographic Journal v.38 no.2 (2001): 119-134.

Chasseaud, Peter. Topography of Armageddon: A British Trench Map Atlas of the Western Front 1914-1918. Lewes: Mapbooks, 1991.

Chasseaud, Peter. Trench Maps: A Collector's Guide Volume 1: British Regular Series 1:10,000 Trench Maps GSGS 3062. Lewes: Mapbooks, 1986.

Collier, P. (January 01, 2002). The Impact on Topographic Mapping of Developments in Land and Air Survey: 1900-1939. Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 29,3, 155-174.

Dye, P. (Spring, 2009). France and the Development of British Military Aviation. Royal Air Force: Air Power Review, 12, 1, 14-26.

Finnegan, Terrence J. Shooting the Front: Allied Aerial Reconnaissance and Photographic Interpretation On the Western Front. Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic Intelligence Research, National Defense Intelligence College, 2006.

Hardesty, Von, and Gene Eisman. Camera Aloft: Edward Steichen in the Great War. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Heiman, Grover. (1972). Aerial Photography: the story of aerial mapping and reconnaissance. New York: The Macmillan Company Ltd.

Hinks, Arthur R. “German War Maps and Survey.” The Geographical Journal v.53, no.1 (1919): 30-40.

Ives, H. E. (1920). Airplane Photography. Philadelphia: Lippincott.

Larabee, Mark Douglas. Front Lines of Modernism: Remapping the Great War in British Fiction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Mead, Peter. (1983). The Eye in the Air: history of air observation and reconnaissance for the army, 1745-1945. London: H.M.S.O.

Murray, Jeffrey S. "The Face of Armageddon." Mercator's World v.1, no.2 (1996): 31-37.

Murray, Jeffrey S. Terra Nostra: The Stories Behind Canada's Maps 1550-1950. Georgetown: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006.

Nesbit, Roy Conyers. (1997). Eyes of the RAF: a history of photo-reconnaissance. Godalming, Surrey: Bramley Books.

Seymour, W.A., Andrews, John Harwood. A History of the Ordnance Survey. Kent: Wm Dawson & Sons Ltd, 1980.

Sinclair, J.C. (2008). One Hundred Years of Canadian Military Mapping, 1903-2003. Ottawa: Baico Publishing Inc.

Stichelbaut, B., Chielens, P., In Flanders Fields Museum., Imperial War Museum (Great Britain), & Musée royal de l'Armée et d'histoire militaire. (2013). The Great War seen from the air in Flanders fields, 1914-1918. Brussels: Mercatorfonds.

Thomson, D. W. (1975). Skyview Canada: A story of aerial photography in Canada. Ottawa: Dept. of Energy, Mines and Resources.

Winterbotham, H. S. L. "Geographical Work with the Army in France." Geographical Journal v.54 (1919): 12-28.

Credits:

Credits

Acquisition:

Acquisition of the Dr. Peter Chasseaud Collection in 2009 was made possible, in part, with the assistance of a Movable Cultural Property grant accorded by the Department of Canadian Heritage under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act.

Digitization:

Original Collection (2007): Perimeter Digital, Canada.

Dr. Peter Chasseaud Collection (2010): Adam Matthew Digital, U.K.

Project Team:

Cathy Moulder, Director, Maps, Data & GIS (retired)

Gord Beck, Map Specialist, Lloyd Reeds Map Collection

Wiktor Rzeczkowski, I.T. Architecture & Development Specialist (retired)

Debbie Lawlor, Information Technology Analyst

Gabriela Mircea, Digital Repository Librarian

Abe Pankhurst, Student Assistant

Anna Jakubowski, Student Assistant

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