Mapping the Second World War
By Peter Chasseaud
(Collins in association with the IWM, 304 pages, £30) Following his su ccessful and well-reviewe ed Mapping The First World War, military historia n and cartographer Peter Chasseaudd now turns his attention to the Second World War.
Beginning withith an overview of how maps influenced political and military thinking, as well as showing the distribution of enemy resources, the disposition of troops, submarines, defences, aircraft and communications, he looks first at the causes of the war, then at the individual theatres and fronts.
Using maps, politicians and generals planned their strategies and explained themselves to their troops and the public. The sheer numbers are staggering – more than 400 million sheets were produced in Britain alone, with many millions more abroad; the United States produced 80 million for D-Day and Normandy. In 1945, with the nation collapsing, Germany still produced 16 million.
Maps, beautifully reproduced in colour, obviously dominate the book. Luftwaffe target maps for London docks and plans for the German invasion of Britain stand out for 1940. There are maps of the Tobruk defences and El Alamein from North Africa and those illustrating the progress of the Battle of Midway in the Pacific, of operations in Burma and the defeat of Japan. Bomber Command maps show German targets and there are examples that illustrate the invasion of Italy and German ones showing how Italian partisans helped the Allies. There is also a section on how they plotted the D-Day landings and charted the progress of the invasion. Maps of the Russian Front show the enormous scale of Russia’s contribution in breaking the back of the German army.
The only absence is the lack of any small-scale maps that would’ve been used by small units planning their operations.
As in Chasseaud’s first book, there’s a full explanatory text, which puts the maps into context, contemporary photos (some in colour) and explanatory appendices. The whole is a beautifully produced package that will interest military historians and map lovers alike.
A map of Moscow as used in the Second World War