Catalogue description War Office: Geographical Section General Staff and Historical Section: War of 1914-1918: Italian Campaign: Maps

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Details of WO 369
Reference: WO 369
Title: War Office: Geographical Section General Staff and Historical Section: War of 1914-1918: Italian Campaign: Maps

Maps produced for the Italian theatre of operations from British, Italian and Austro-Hungarian series. They include maps used by the Official Historians. The large-scale special Operations Maps (WO 369/753-767) do not have regular sheet-lines or form part of a regular map series. They are historically significant maps, covering the theatre of operations down to Caporetto.

The following map series codes were used for listing 1:75,000, 1:25,000 and 1:12,500 Austro-Hungarian maps:

Series A Topographical maps without "military overprints" which provide the base maps for the other series;

Series B Topographical/operations maps hand-coloured with valleys yellow, roads red and Italian frontiers pink and, where they occur, Austrian defence positions hand-drawn and named in black ink;

Series C Topographical/operations maps with military symbols o/p to locate and identify fortifications and defence works;

Series D Topographical/operations maps with colour-coded trench/gun positions and barracks/camps o/p, [Italian "Trench Lines" in red, Austrian in blue. Listed respectively 'I' or 'A' in 'TL' column of Series List];

Series E Italian topographical maps in Carta d'Italia series reprinted for issue in Austro-Hungarian series.

The above series codes are relevant to these scales, although there are no Series B, C or E maps at 1:25,000. The 1:75,000 maps in the series are in three series, Series A/E, B/C and D.

"Military overprints" of topographical base maps to produce operations series were generally compiled at Armee or Korps Kommando level and drawn/printed by numbered military survey units designated either a 'Kreigsmappierungsabteilung' or a 'Kriegsvermessung' working in the field. All military survey was under the control of the k.u.k [Königlich und kaiserlich = Royal and Imperial] Militärgeographischen Institut in Vienna.

Photographic and drawn panoramas made before 1925 and relating to maps in this series are in WO 369/3 ( "Channels of the Piave" and drawn panoramas) and WO 369/4 ("Various views on Italian Front"). The "photo panoramas" with the prefix 'S' were from the Salonika campaign.

WO 369/1-29 are graphic indexes to the maps.

Date: 1890-1990

Operations were conducted on a series of 'Fronts' between Lake Garda and the Izonzo and the series has been organised to reflect this. Allied maps are arranged in groups of Topographical, Intelligence and Operations/Trench Maps for each Front, irrespective of the nationality of the producer. Enemy maps, which at the smaller scales cover most of the theatre of operations, are arranged topographically, whether or not they bear military overprints.

The codes listed below were first designed for the 1:75,000 series and later expanded to accommodate the 1:25,000 and 1:12,500 series, in some cases with the added suffix 'x'. A number of 1:25,000 and 1:12,500 maps were collated from maps produced in both the Austrian and the Italian system of cartography. Sheets at these scales were numbered in either or both of the "old" and "new" systems. The sheet numbers printed on the maps are are indicated in the catalogue, square brackets being used when "missing" numbers have been entered in MS. The "old" system depended upon three references:-

Z = Zone [horizontal grid location in Arabic numerals]

K = Kolonne [vertical grid location in Roman numerals]

S = Sektion [quarter location using cardinal points]

Maps at 1:75,000 usually have a reference number in the lower right corner of the sheet as listed in the 'Remarks' column.

Map features are identified in the catalogue by the use of codes as follows:

"K u k Militärgeographischen Institut" in bottom margin;

2 Austrian Military Survey unit as listed;

3 Reference number in lower right corner as listed;

4 Key to fortifications/defence works symbols in margin;

4x Key to topographical conventional signs in margin;

5 Key to colour-coded military conventional signs for Trench Lines etc in margin;

6 Base monochrome black/grey with form-lines and hachuring [normal Austrian mountain cartography];

6x Base monochrome black/grey with contours and rock drawing [normal Italian mountain cartography];

7 Base monochrome brown with form-lines and hachuring [normal Austrian mountain cartography];

7x Base monochrome brown with contours and rock drawing [normal Italian mountain cartography];

8 Woodland coloured green;

9 Woodland coloured light blue (over brown = green tint);

10 Water coloured dark blue;

11 Roads coloured brown/yellow;

11x Military roads/cable railways o/p in black/brown/violet;

12 Form-line heights in metres printed at margins;

13 Maps with reference grid;

14 Artillery Map;

15 Infantry Plan.

Codes have been used to reduce the excessive repetition of text in listing the Austro-Hungarian maps. In order to reduce the need for translations, a 'Glossary of German terms and abbreviations used on Austro-Hungarian maps' and an 'Explanation of Anglo-Italian Abbreviations' are in the standard list set, together with a contents list.

See also: "List of Principal Abbreviations used in Italian Maps" of Feb 1918 included in "Notes on Maps issued to British Forces in Italy, June 1918" (WO 369/1) and published loose in earlier editions (WO 369/33 and 34)

Related material:

For other maps from the Italian campaign see WO 153/734, 755-784, 1198 and 1210.

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 Operations and Intelligence, Geographical Section, 1922-1939

War Office, Directorate of Military Operations and Plans, Geographical Section, 1939-1943

War Office, Directorate of Military Operations, Geographical Section General Staff, 1908-1922

War Office, Directorate of Military Operations, Topographical Section, 1904-1908

War Office, Directorate of Military Survey, 1943-1964

War Office, Military Intelligence and Mobilization Department, Topographical Section, 1901-1904

War Office, Military Intelligence Division, Topographical Section, 1888-1901

Physical description: 836 flat sheet(s)
Access conditions: Open unless otherwise stated
Publication note:

References to the Official History are to the 'History of the Great War based on official documents by direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence: MILITARY OPERATIONS: ITALY: 1915-1919' compiled by Brig-General Sir James E Edmonds CB CMG DLitt(Oxford) RE (Retired) psc and Major-General H R Davies CB, published by HMSO, London, 1949.

Administrative / biographical background:

Italy entered the war in May 1915 but it was not until the successful Austrian offensive actions of 1917 that substantial French and British forces were transferred to Italy. Since the beginning of the war the British Military Mission under Delmé Radcliffe had channelled maps and operational intelligence back to the War Office. The committed British forces included 6th Field Survey Company RE whose Report and Notes on maps issued to British forces in Italy provide a comprehensive picture of British mapping achievements. The whole theatre of operations was covered by overlapping Italian and Austrian mapping of pre-war origins, which was adapted and enhanced to meet the requirements of military operations in the starkly contrasted mountain and valley/plain environments. The differing original cartographic styles are easily seen in both Allied and enemy products.

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