The new First World War Atlas Copy

Photo: Martin “in the field” describing the events that happened there.

285 words / 2 minute read

It was November, damp, foggy, grey seeping in to every corner.  I followed Martin along a straight path cut between green fields which stretched off into the fog.  No idea where we are going.  Finally, we see a tree, its bare branches cutting a darker grey against the fog, inside a low brick wall.  As we neared, the Cross of Remembrance stands out in the distance.

It was one of the hundreds of Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries on the Somme.  When we were there it had been 90 years since the guns of that war were silenced.  November 2023 marks 105 years.  In honour of that anniversary, Sir Martin’s maps of that terrible war have been collected and republished in the 4th edition of his First World War Atlas:  216 maps, a Foreword by the battlefield guide experts Major and Mrs Holt, maps of every theatre and mode of battle, horses and tanks, gold lost, gold gained, dreams made and dashed, cemeteries marked, the fronts, the trenches, the poetry, the mud.

Drawing on maps of Sir Martin’s other books on that war, this compilation is the ultimate graphic guide to the points where history and geography collide.

That damp, dark November Martin and I were on the Somme, it was hunting season.  Shots pierced the fog.  We were lucky – we went back to a hot bath and a fine meal, we didn’t carry heavy packs in case we were thrown into a shell hole in No-Man’s-Land trying to inch forward before getting mired in the mud and death.  But the cold and horror went through us just the same.

These maps define war and a world gone mad that set the tone for the following century.

Esther Gilbert

Read: The Atlas of the First World War

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