| Trench Maps of the Great War - at the touch of a button!
LinesMan is PC based innovative software presenting historical map data on a modern digital platform.
For the WW1 battlefield explorer LinesMan can be used with a suitable hand held GPS device.
A Guide to Trench Maps (click images to view larger version)
The four years of relatively static warfare in Belgium and France, from late 1914 to the end of the First World War, entailed the excavation of thousands of miles of trenches and static fortifications. The record of the development of these static defence lines was maintained in the British sectors of the Western Front by the Geographical Section of the General Staff (GSGS) from topographical survey detail and aerial photography provided by the Royal Engineers and Royal Flying Corps (later in 1918 the RAF) respectively. The first official trench maps began to appear from mid-1915 onwards.
The initial key to the trench maps was detailed by GSGS on a series of 1:40,000 scale maps, each covering a rectangular area of part of the Western Front measuring 36,000 yards by 24,000 yards (244 square miles) and overlaid with a grid of twenty-four squares annotated A to X each measuring 6,000yards by 6,000 yards typically as below:
Map sheet 28 (244 square miles)
The capital-lettered square is further divided into thirty-six (occasionally thirty) smaller squares each measuring 1,000 yards by 1,000 yards and numbered 1 to 36:
28I (6,000 yards square)
The 1:40,000 scale maps were quartered (61 square miles each) and each quarter identified from the centre of the map as NW, NE, SW and SE. Map sheets were produced from these quarters at 1:20,000 scale primarily for use by the artillery. A further series of 1:10,000 larger scale maps were produced from quartering the 1:20,000 scale maps and numbered 1 to 4 and named after the area they cover, principally for use by the infantry.
Map sheet 28
To identify a map reference the 1000 yard square was further divided into four 500 yard squares lettered a to d:
28I.8 (1,000 yards square)
On 1:10,000 scale maps, the 500 yard squares are divided into easting and northing divisions in tenths:
28I.8b (500 yards square)
Eastings, left to right, are quoted first, followed by northings, bottom to top. Therefore, the map reference for the indicated point X is recorded as 28I.8b.2.1 (the position of the Menin Gate)
Please note that the yardage grids detailed above are arbitrary and overlaid over a metric topographical map and are not continuous. It is, therefore, not possible to produce a simple mathematical transform to consistently convert First World War map references into a modern lat/ long or WGS 84 references from the grids.
LinesMan 10 Key to British 1:10,000 scale Maps
LinesMan 20 Key to British 1:40,000 and 1:20,000 scale Maps
LinesMan Western Front 1915-1918
800+ 1:10,000 scale British trench maps of the Western Front. This is the largest scale of trench map produced during the Great War as a regular series. These were probably intended mainly for infantry use and extensively cover the areas of conflict from 1915 to mid 1918. The scale and inherent accuracy of these maps, from mid 1916 onwards, are particularly conducive for GPS use and provide surprising accuracy when compared to modern mapping of the areas concerned.
1000+ 1:20,000 scale British trench maps of the Western Front including a backdrop of 1:40,000 scale British maps. These maps were produced primarily for artillery use and cover a much wider area across sectors of the Western Front than the 1:10,000 series. The areas covered include back areas and some advanced areas in preparation for potential fighting. In particular this series of maps covers those areas of mobile warfare conducted during the final months of the war in 1918 when no 1:10,000 scale maps were prepared due to the speed of the advance. Whilst these maps are geo-referenced and will transfer to a GPS device, it is likely that these smaller scale maps will be less accurate than the 1:10,000 series.
Unsure what to buy? Click here for further details