War Diaries Talk

Interesting Map Reference

  • cyngast by cyngast moderator

    This page contains a reference to a map titled Enemy Rear Organization. I find it interesting that they should have such an item. I wonder if it was drawn by the British or captured when they first moved into the area west and southwest of Cambrai. Or whether it might have been obtained through a spy.


  • marie.eklidvirginmedia.com by marie.eklidvirginmedia.com

    Article Re British First World War Trench Maps, 1915-1918

    This article mentions enemy positions on trench maps.

    “Trench maps are a primary source for studying the major battlefields of the Great War. They show in detail the changing Front Line and its associated communication trenches, as well as the location of enemy positions and defences including artillery gun emplacements, machine guns, mines, wire entanglements, and observation posts”.

    Survey work was dangerous, and obviously could not extend into the important forward areas of German occupation. Here the use of aerial photography was particularly vital for much detail of enemy positions - especially for trench mapping, artillery maps, and other large-scale maps. There were major advances in the capture, interpretation, rectification and use of air photos (aerial photogrammetry) during the War.

    Although captured German maps had their value, the War also encouraged rapid improvements in innovative techniques such as flash-spotting and sound-ranging. Flash-spotting entailed the observation of gun flashes and the direction of counter-fire onto them, assisted by the 'flash and buzzer board' allowing direct telephone communication between Group Headquarters and survey posts for synchronising observations. Flash-spotting located enemy guns by measuring the time intervals for the flash of light or sound to arrive at carefully selected positions.

    More effective flash spotting and sound ranging were used successfully to locate German guns by time of the Battle of Arras, 1917, and were critically important for the surprise tank attack at Cambrai in November 1917. They enabled 'predicted fire' and successful artillary barrages, accurately determining gun targets based on their surveyed positions, without the traditional more time-consuming prior registration of targets by trial and error".

    Link: https://maps.nls.uk/ww1/trenches/info1.html

    I suppose any of these entries could refer to the map. Actually when transcribing orders I think I can remember that the troops were ordered not take anything of a secretive nature into battle, copies of orders, maps etc in case they were taken prisoner. Also likewise wherever they maybe.

    PS When tagging the 1st Btn Irish Guards on page 321 for 23rd Nov 1917 when they were ordered to move via Demicourt, to bridge over the Canal du Nord, There was a map reference: Enemy Rear Organisation
    Sheet 2, Edition 2. (My little notebook sometimes comes in handy).


  • ral104 by ral104 moderator, scientist

    Aerial reconnaissance would have played a significant part in producing this sort of map, although prisoners might have added additional detail. I don't know much about the level of spying in the frontline areas - not sure how common it really was.


  • cyngast by cyngast moderator

    Ah, I didn't think about aerial reconnaissance. I should have after all the aerial photographs I've seen of the trenches and the comments in orders about handing over photographs, etc. to the incoming unit during reliefs.

    Thanks for mentioning it, Rob.


  • cyngast by cyngast moderator in response to marie.eklidvirginmedia.com's comment.

    That map was probably the same one, or these were two separate copies. The two units are both part of the 1st Guards Brigade.