Catalogue description War Office and Air Ministry: Directorate of Military Survey: Suez Campaign: Maps

Search within or browse this series to find specific records of interest.

Date range

Details of WO 322
Reference: WO 322
Title: War Office and Air Ministry: Directorate of Military Survey: Suez Campaign: Maps

This series comprises material from the libraries of the Directorate of Military Survey, War Office and Air Ministry (D Svy, WO & AM). It includes a selection of Directorate of Military Survey publications, maps, aeronautical charts and town plans produced, or otherwise available, during the period August to December 1956 which bear on planning and operations in Egypt during of the Suez campaign under codewords POKER and MUSKETEER.

Co-production with the Survey Directorate, Middle East Land Forces (MELF) in Cyprus is evident, as is a particular co-production with the French army survey service (SGFFA). The existence of bi-lateral and co-production arrangements with the US Army Map Service over many years had resulted in common stock policies, and co-production arrangements for determining the military grids and geographical names to be used, over wide areas in the Middle East, including Egypt. This was reflected in frequent adaptation of American maps and air charts for British use, and the parallel ability of the US Army Map Service to create US contingency stock of British maps of Egypt in October 1956.

The dates shown in the catalogue for maps are in all cases the date of printing rather than the date of survey.

Date: 1944-1960
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Ministry of Defence, Directorate of Military Survey, 1964-

War Office, Directorate of Military Survey, 1943-1964

Physical description: 528 files, flat sheets and volumes
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure
Administrative / biographical background:

During the Suez campaign, nearly 3 million maps were printed, including over 500,000 aeronautical charts; of this total, over one third was printed by 42 Survey Regt in Cyprus, and much of the remainder by the Ordnance Survey in the UK under arrangements with the Directorate of Military Survey.

From the early 1950s Anglo-American and NATO mapping policy was, inter alia, directed towards standardisation of series designation, edition numbering and geographical names on maps for common use. The difficulty of bringing this about even by one national organisation is well illustrated by the first major operational challenge - Suez.

For many years the Survey of Egypt had met the UK military requirement for topographic maps of Egypt, and provided both stock and reproduction material. In the Middle East, a British Military Survey Directorate operated at a distance, and often at arm's length, from the sweeping plans of NATO, especially over the massive stock replacement which was necessary at a time of pressing local demands on the Survey Directorate's resources by the local command.

By including the various reprints and new editions, and in a few cases proof copies, the problems of providing common stock for simultaneous issue in the UK, Cyprus and Malta can be seen. Some sheets in hand when the operation ceased were not published until later.

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research