Being a fan of mapping often runs in the family and there are a few people who work for us at Ordnance Survey who have relatives who also worked for us in the past. We are trying to pull out some stories about what it was like to work for Ordnance Survey during World War One (WW1) and would be really interested to hear from anyone who has heard stories from relatives or friends about working either here in Southampton, or on the battlefield mapping the trenches.
The importance of mapping in war was recognised in our inception when the Board of Ordnance instructed us to map the south coast of France in a bid to defend our shores from the threatened Napoleonic invasion.
During WW1, aerial photography – enabling us to plot the detail on the ground from the air – developed and allowed us to record the trench positions and later we set up an Overseas Unit in northern France to print large quantities of maps for the troops..
If you are interested in finding out more, ‘Mapping the First World War’ is a book recently published and written by Peter Chasseaud and reviewed in The Guardian. We hope to have a blog post and possible competition for a copy next year.
If you have any information relating to people working for us during the period from 1914–18, please get in touch with Melanie.Osborne@ordnancesurvey.co.uk