WWII Topographic Map Series

WWII Topographic Map Series

WWII Topographic Map Series

List of the Series

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

About the WWII Topographic Map Series

About the Maps

The topographic map series made available on this website were produced by the British War Office, Geographical Section, General Staff (G.S.G.S.) and the U.S. Army Map Service (A.M.S.) during the war years of 1939-1945. Most were based on the existing mapping of various European countries. As a result, they offer a fascinating look into the differing national approaches to cartography and the modifications of map elements required for military purposes.

Although they do not contain military annotations, they provide a rich topographical database of information which can aid the researcher to comprehend puzzling aspects of terrain or to locate vanished villages, road networks and landmarks. They should be of particular interest to historians and genealogists but can also be used by anyone interested in obtaining a visual accompaniment to related texts, documents and records. They represent a valuable primary source of information for the Digital Humanities which can be utilized to support research with many of McMaster's unique archives such as our Holocaust and Resistance Collection.



The WWII Topographic Map Series Project represents the Lloyd Reeds Map Collection's first 'in-house' digitization project. McMaster University Library wishes to thank the many geography and geology graduates whose generous gifts helped to fund the purchase of a large-format scanner, without which, this project would not have been possible. The over 3,000 maps in the McMaster WWII Map series were electronically captured with a Colortrac SmartLF GX+T56 scanner at 600 dpi optical, 24 bit tonal resolution and saved in .TIF (archival), JPEG (thumbnail) and JPEG2000 (scalable) formats.We would also like to thank the staff at the University of Alberta, William C. Wonders Map Library and the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) with whom we have recently partnered to add an additional 5,000 maps to our online collection. 

Project Team:

Gord Beck, Map Specialist

Margaret Rutten, Digital Access Specialist (Retired)

Jason Brodeur, Manager, Maps/Data/GIS

Sarah LoConte, Map Collection Student Assistant: Initial testing of equipment, scanning & editing of France 1:250,000 and authoring of procedural documentation.

Karen Tan, Map Collection Student Assistant: Map preparation, scanning, editing, metadata and revision to procedural documentation for all series except those listed below.

Jenny Ni, Map Collection Student Assistant: Map preparation, scanning, editing and metadata for England & Wales, Scotland, Hong Kong, Borneo and the Strategic Map Series.

Sue Burner and Sana Malik, Map Collection Student Assistants: Map preparation, scanning, editing and metadata for Italy 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 series, and Central Europe 1:25,000

Image courtesy of Russell Sanderson (1926-2016) of Hamilton (formerly of Niagara Falls), Ontario.

Russell "Sandy" Sanderson

Russell "Sandy" Sanderson
Sniper-Scout, Scout Platoon
1st Battalion, the Black Watch
Royal Highland Regiment of Canada.
Holland, February 1945.

"Sandy's major duty was reconnaissance. For this, he relied heavily on maps like those in our Holland 1:25,000 scale series. It was my distinct pleasure to have met and talked with Sandy about his use of these maps in the field."--Gord Beck, Map Specialist, Lloyd Reeds Map Collection

"Sandy's" story is now the subject of the History Channel's documentary, Black Watch Snipers (2016). 

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