Mapping the World War: The Power of a Two-Dimensional Battlefield

In 2019 I wrote my Master’s Thesis about Military Maps in WWI & WWII with the title: ‘Mapping the World Wars: The Power of a Two-Dimension Battlefield.’  Some of you may immediately recognize the importance of military maps in warfare.

In my thesis I attempted to explain how the military maps that we know today were a new invention in World War I and World War II. More importantly, I tried to argue how the maps of WWI and WWII were a crucial tool on the lowest levels of command in the British and US Army. something which other historians have failed to recognize. 

In short, all the way down to divisions and regiments, the map could serve  as a two-dimensional overview of what was happening on the battlefield. There are two big changes occurring in the 20th century that allowed this to happen. First, the development of a grid system that was used and understood by the whole armed forces. Second, the increasing development of tactical communications such as telephone lines and the tactical radio allowed men to report much faster on combat situations than ever.

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One thought to “Mapping the World War: The Power of a Two-Dimensional Battlefield”

  • Richard Binkhuysen

    Quite interesting.
    I use WW2 maps, though I still have to adjust those to visualize importaint military objects.
    Or to leave civilan ones out.
    Sometimes you are even forced to construct your own map, as these things can blur vital points of interest.
    Or even confuse a battle field so much, that detailed research becomes a real nightmare.
    In my project to prove the Resistance Group of which my Granddad was part of, the Battle for Woensdrecht is the best example.
    A varia of extremely difficult terrains and heights.
    First episode of the Battle for Woensdrecht (#11) :


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