Quick notes on Mapping

In WW1 mapping was crucial to know where you and the enemy were located. The British Army maps of yesteryear are now able to give you accurate position data you can use in a GPS to find your way along the dusty byways of 1914-1918.

Products like LINESMAN from Great War Digital have most of the tactical maps Canadians used. If you take a screen print of a map of Vimy France from the online Trenchmap Library at McMaster University you can open it in OZIE Explorer, put in known road junctions which typically are the same today as they were in WW1 and a GPS coordinate will pop up. There is a learning curve but the links below will assist you to understand the process of tracing back in time. Where was a soldier last seen alive? The trench map will tell you exactly on the ground. Try the link below for the National Library of Scotland who have georeferenced their collection. If you don’t find your information on one source its likely the others can assist you. Remember a map is a very accurate picture of the ground – if you could go back in time with an Canadian Army Helicopter you would land on the ground where your unit was operating in WW1. Feel free to send an email to and we can help you out as we have time.

See links – these maps generated a file (in GPX) format that is read by Google Earth – just download – unzip then open in Google Earth. Note you can see the data in 1917 or year 2000 format. There is latitude and longitude data on all sides of the map. Pick your point then read off the GPS data. The maps print out amazingly well on large scale plotters. – LINESMAN – OZIE EXPLORER see GUIDES to learn how Trench Maps worked – typically you want a map in 1:10,000 scale. – click the master map to see trench map coverage on the right hand side

War Diaries Search — example enter “9-52 war diaries 54th Battalion”. A map reference will be usually listed in the daily diary after September 1916 when the Canadian Army went to the Somme. Before and after the Somme positions were also listed as near something prominent like a sunken road cutting.

Canadian War Diaries – How to search for war diaries

Use Collection Search to view the digitized war diaries for the CEF (RG9-D-III-3, finding aid 9-52).

  • In the drop-down list, select Archives.
  • In the keyword box, enter 9-52 war diaries and the name of the unit. Examples:
    • 9-52 war diaries 52nd Battalion
    • 9-52 war diaries Cyclist
    • 9-52 war diaries 11th Trench Mortar