Map help

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Aaron Simmons, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. Aaron Simmons

    Aaron Simmons Member

    Good Morning all,

    i am trying to research the movement of the 74th Field Reg as my great grandad was a Gunner with them, i have there war diaries and it has a lot of map reference within them but i am struggling to work them out.

    I have seen the thread with this link for the maps Tunisia AMS Topographic Maps - Perry-Castañeda Map Collection - UT Library Online

    I have attached a snipping of the diary with some references, can anyone help me or tell me how i work them out that would be great.

    Thank you

    Aaron Simmons

    Attached Files:

  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  3. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Aaron, Have been trying to find an answer for you. Map references are normally an even number of digits and generally 6 - for example in your diary extract 505186. To be honest not quite sure what the other figures i.e. 1969181 is.
    I wonder if the area you are interested in is Map 27 Medjez El Bab? I have attached a print of the bottom LH corner showing where 505 (along the bottom edge) and 186 (along the side edge) is.
    You will need to look at adjacent maps for the other, for example 504776 is on Map 12 Mateur.
    Does any of this tie up with other location information you have?
    Map 27.jpg
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  4. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Aaron, doing a bit more homework and wondering if I have the wrong location, I wonder if you are interested in the Mareth Line? You can still find this map on your link and the principle of the references still applies. This also gives a clue on the other number (1969181) see corner of image below which shows 1967000. Query is the two don't seem to match so am rather puzzled.
    Mareth map.jpg

    Edit: have a look at the 1:100,000 map for Mareth, the full reference can be worked out:

    Mareth map 2.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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  5. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    The 74th Field Regiment, RA, were Divisional troops of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division and the two Brigades of 50 Div attacked at Wadi Zigzaou on 20 March 1943. I believe the map references will be for Mareth.


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  6. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Another clue is in the RH column of the war diary - 83 SE, ? south east corner of map 83. Note that, as per Steve's post above 'Zigzaou' is shown on the map.
    Mareth map 2.jpg
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  7. Richard Lewis

    Richard Lewis Member

  8. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Richard, if you look at the image in my post #6 above you can in fact see how the map references in the diaries are arrived at.
    The Eastings along the bottom 1960000 and the Northings along the side 510000, will admit that I have never seen them quoted this way before in diaries.
    If you look at these two different scale maps:
    1960000, 510000 on this map
    Mareth map 2.jpg
    is the same as 600100 on this map the figures are just abbreviated.
    Mareth map 3.jpg

    I haven't looked to work it out but I wonder if the full reference, 1960000, 510000, is unique, but the 6 figure reference would be repeated on different maps, hence my initial post #3 that got the wrong area. Clear as mud!
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
  9. Richard Lewis

    Richard Lewis Member

    I’m with you now Tony! Thanks for making it clearer.

    The instructions given on the map for giving a grid reference say, “IGNORE the SMALLER figures….viz. 50000. USE ONLY THE LARGER FIGURES….viz. 50000”. Instructions which have plainly been ignored.

    I was reading the grid references as two separate sets of figures when in fact they were one reference.

    For example 1969181 505186 = 6918105186 (10 figure grid reference) 69180518 (8 figure) or 691051 which is the most commonly found 6 figure reference.

    Just to complicate things these 1:100,000 Tunisian sheets have the grid squares 10 kms apart instead of the normal 1km.

    Presumably being a gunner regiment the gun positions would be accurately surveyed, hence the long grid reference.
  10. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Yep, I wondered that, mind you pretty easy to get them wrong!
  11. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    That was also my assumption, Richard/Tony!


  12. Aaron Simmons

    Aaron Simmons Member

    Thank you for your help chaps, all bloody confusing! at least i can try and do some pin pointing now!
  13. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Aaron, OK, looking at the diary it states "Regiment moved into gun pits" and then goes on to quote the various map references of these locations. These are:-
    1969181,505186 = 692052 (rounded)
    1969192,505209 = 692052
    1969138,504776 = 691048
    1969571,505538 = 696055
    1969103,452E Not sure about this one.
    1969112,506012 = 691060
    1969144,505759 = 691058
    1969419,505750 = 694058

    Have stitched a couple of maps together and attempted to plot the various positions, to be frank, and allowing for all the approximations involved, they are really in close proximity to each other. To me they all look to be along the line of, or pretty close to a wadi, that would presumably give good cover.

    Map attached, the red squares are 1km x 1km.

    Mareth line.jpg

    I think these tie in pretty well with Steve's post #5 above that says the Division were attacking Wadi Zigzaou on 20th.
  14. Aaron Simmons

    Aaron Simmons Member

    Tony thank you!!! This is just amazing!!!
  15. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    50 Div won a VC at Wadi Zigzag and another just over two weeks later at Wadi Akarit.

    Both battles were hard, the brave/tough troops were badly let down by poor leadership and to some extent, planning, at the highest level.

    Well wort researching 50 Div’s part in both battles. I can recommend reading resources if required!


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  16. Aaron Simmons

    Aaron Simmons Member

    Steve, Yes please! and thank you for the help!
  17. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

  18. Aaron Simmons

    Aaron Simmons Member

    Thank you Tony, fantastic help!!

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