Thursday, June 06, 2019

D Day Military Maps

The Library of Congress holds a collection of World War II Military Situation Maps. This collection of maps provides a day-by-day account of Allied and Axis troop positions from D Day until the end of the war. The maps start on 6th June 1944, with the D-Day invasion, and then provide a daily picture of the military campaign in Western Europe.

The maps were drawn up by the Twelfth Army Group. The Twelfth US Army Group controlled the majority of American forces on the Western Front. The maps plot the daily positions of Allied and Axis troops as understood by the operations staff. The maps were drawn-up during the fog of war and were made often with incomplete and inaccurate information. However the maps still provide an invaluable primary source of information of troop movements and an important guide to the progress of the Allied troops through Western Europe after D Day right up until the end of World War II.

The University of Texas Libraries has two secret US BIGOT maps showing Omaha Beach (East & West). BIGOT was a code-word for Operation Overlord and the BIGOT list included the names of all the personnel who had been cleared to know details of Operation Overlord.

The information provided on the maps suggest that they were made to help ships land on Omaha Beach (maps were also created for Utah Beach). The maps provide details on water depths, beach obstacles, low water marks, sand bars etc. The maps also provide a panoramic picture of the beach as seen from the sea. This panorama includes notable buildings and physical landmarks. Although, as the 'Notes to the Coxwain or Navigator' warn, building landmarks "may be destroyed before any craft land".

The maps do also contain information which would be invaluable for the troops landing on Omaha Beach. These details include major obstacles on the beach, reported mine locations and the locations of anti-tank ditches and road-blocks.

The reverse side of each map includes sunlight and moonlight tables (showing the times of sunrise, sunset and phases of the moon), beach gradients, tidal stages (times of high and low tide) and information about estimated tidal currents.

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