WW2 India Map Reference (Imphal)

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by 5thindiandivision, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. 5thindiandivision

    5thindiandivision Indian Division

    Hi,

    I am looking for a copy of this map reference:

    RK 416790

    It is a small hill near / part of the Numshigum range of hills some 4 miles from the Imphal area.

    Can anyone help me find a copy of a war time map that will show this feature?

    Any advice is welcome.

    Regards

    James
     
  2. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    Imphal is at 24° 49' 0" North, 93° 57' 0 so I'm at a loss as to what those RK numbers mean.
     
  3. 5thindiandivision

    5thindiandivision Indian Division

    Hi Bob

    The number comes from War Diary GS Branch HQ 5 In Div, April 5/6.
    "3 Jat attacking feature RK 416790 with success killing at least 45 Japs and Capturing many documents and equipment."

    I do not know enough about war time maps as to what the RK would stand for.

    Regards

    James
     
  4. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    My suspicion here is, that the numbers are related to radio beacons. In effect a code for targeting by planes or artillery. Don't quote me on that, but I would have thought that if I was recce, I wouldn't want to be helpful and radio in my actual map coordinates.

    I'm sure someone knows on here but in the meantime you could look up Imphal on google earth, use the ruler tool to mark off a diagonal of eight miles, then zoom in to look at likely candidates.
     
  5. 5thindiandivision

    5thindiandivision Indian Division

    Hi Bob

    Okay will give that a try.

    Its funny as I also have this information, from the 4th Field Art War Diary:

    Feature 4357 (both say this) but then a different Map Ref 413796 (if it is a Map Ref).

    Regards

    James
     
  6. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    Here's a rough google map of about four miles around Imphal. Two choices then, north west or south east.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    RK 416790 looks like a map reference similar to the grid system as used the european theatre of war.

    There is a nice website you can use to translate war diary map references in europe to modern day references. I don't know of a any similar website for india and far east though.

    The one for europe can be found here
    The grids used on the European Theatre of Operations
     
  8. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

  9. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Hi James (and welcome aboard), I've got a stack of map references I've yet to look into regarding my research, but the 4 digit reference may relate to a height above sea-level?
    I'm certainly aware that this was done, ie Point 2171, which was one of the final Chindit actions...
     
  10. 5thindiandivision

    5thindiandivision Indian Division

    Thanks for all the help, I will keep digging and see what may come up.

    Regards

    James
     
  11. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    I tried looking at the map of Imphal in Google Sketchup. It only lets you grab 2 km squares of land. It's possible to make a large map that way but it's awkward. The north west hills come right into town, so you would have to command those. Sketch up won't say how high the hills are above sea level but they are about 190 metres above the valley floor.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    James,

    I may be able to help.

    Ultimately, you need to get the wartime map, which will have a military grid printed upon it. I believe RK 416790 is a grid reference which will be easily found on the wartime map. I know that a pre-war 1:126,720 scale map of the area was made in the 1923-42 range by the Survey of India.

    Now, although I don't have this map, the Univ. of Texas map library on-line offers a 1955 1:250,000 map, NG 46-15, which has a military grid printed. And RK is a grid zone on this map, in the Imphal area. Furthermore, I believe the 416790 point can be found on this map. The only problem is that there is no way of knowing if the 1955 map's grid is of the same datum/spheroid as the earlier British 1:126,720 map. Grid datum/spheroid info changes over time, and although the grid zones may be the same on different editions, if two editions have differing datum/spheroid fundamentals, then the exact positioning of, say, RK 416790 on one map will be slightly different on another map.

    So...really, you can only be certain of the position of RK 416790 by getting the wartime map used by whomever recorded that grid ref, BUT I'm betting that the 1955 grid IS of the same datum/spheroid as the wartime map.

    The Imphal 1:250,000 map can be viewed, and downloaded from:

    http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/india/txu-oclc-6614190-ng46-15.jpg

    Of course, the 1:250,000 map is a smaller scale than the wartime 1:126,720, so there is less detail/more generalization of all features. (A smaller scale map shows a larger area in less detail.)

    Look at the blue grid north-northeast of the town of Imphal and you will see a grid square bordered by these four lines:

    a) an east-west line to the north labeled "8"
    b) an east-west line to the south labeled "7"
    c) a north-south line to the west labeled "4", and
    d) a north-south line to the east labeled "5".

    Grid coordinates are read horizontally from left, followed by vertically from the bottom. Thus, the 416 component is read and measured from left to right, and the 790 component is read and measured from bottom to top.

    The RK 416790 point would be at the 0.16 mark between the 4 and 5 line, close to the 4 line, and at the 0.9 mark between the 7 and 8 line, close to the 8 line.

    The blue grid lines are 10,000 yards apart. The 1955 map's contour lines don't define every hill in the area, but there is a nice little single contour, representing a hill, pretty much exactly where the 416790 point plots. I was able to match up the 1955 map with a Google Earth image, and there is a well-defined hill in the precise location -- so maybe, just maybe, your point was along this hill. See the images below.

    Note the body of water on the 1955 map, just to the right of Yumnam Kunou village. This is a good visual reference to match the 1955 map detail to Google Earth imagery, including roads.

    The RK 416790 point is due north of this, with a road or cart track in-between.

    On the Google Earth imagery you can see a dark area of rice paddies -- the position of the "lake". I'm guessing that it floods out in the monsoon season -- a seasonal, intermittent lake at best, and the discoloration is evident in satellite imagery. The hill due north of this is what may be the location of your grid ref which you said was on a hill. Note that the track seen on the map is clearly visible at the foot of the hill.

    One of the Google Earth attachments is at a slight angle, showing 3-D terrain with no vertical exaggeration. So the hill kind of looks "real".

    I know from the Reliability Diagram in the margin of the 1955 map that the Imphal area of the map was compiled from medium-scale topographic maps, and further info in the left lower margin indicates that this would have been the 1:126,720 Survey of India maps from the 1923 - 42 timeframe.

    No time for further explanation (or confusion?)...hope this is a start. I believe the MOD map collection was given to the British Library not all that long ago, so most likely that's where you'll find the actual wartime map or maps covering Imphal. I have an address, to be sent ASAP.

    Again, the 1955 map's grid may be the same, may be different than the larger-scale wartime map from which your grid reference was taken. Certainly the six digit grid ref that you had was pulled from a larger scale map (showing a smaller area in greater detail), and the 1:126,720 scale British map of the area, being a larger scale than the 1:250,000, likely would have allowed for a fairly accurate six-digit grid ref. The 1:250,000 grid references are only supposed to be four-digit numbers, due to the small scale.

    Cheers,

    Matt
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    James,

    Recently, concerning India and Burma wartime maps, the Air Historical Branch wrote me the following:

    We do not hold the maps referred to but it may be possible to obtain copies from the British Library as the record set of GSGS mapping has been transferred from the Ministry of Defence Map Library to British Library Map Library. GSGS is the Geographical Section, General Staff who operated under the Director of Military Operations and made most of the maps used by the British Army. Enquiries about the availability of these maps should be directed to:

    Map Library
    The British Library
    96 Euston Road
    London
    NW1 2DB

    Here is a website which could prove helpful, too, though I haven’t used it yet:

    http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelprestype/maps/iormapcolls/indiamapcols.html

    Hopefully someone at the British Library will be able to provide assistance in acquiring or viewing a copy of the Imphal map from the war. The latitude and longitude of the Imphal area should be enough to key in someone to an index sheet.

    Good luck,

    Matt
     
  14. 5thindiandivision

    5thindiandivision Indian Division

    Hi Matt

    Wow, thank you very much for your help with this. I will get in touch with the British Library about the Maps they hold.

    I have recently been loaned some very detailed war time maps of Burma but they do not give me much detial of the Imphal area, they belonged to a Brigadier in the 98th Indian Brigade, 19th Indian division.

    I have been in touch with the BL recently as they hold all(?) the War Sercive Records for all the British Indian Army Officers, I was informed of this by Sandhurst whilst I was doing some research on the above Brigadier.

    Once again many thanks

    Regards

    James
     
  15. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    What took you so long Mr. Poole?:D
     
  16. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Steve,

    To answer your question: Hurricane Sandy!! I lucked out big time, as did much of the Washington, DC area (only generally speaking -- many did suffer flooding, damage, and power outages). I didn't even lose power at Poole Manor, and no trees came down despite saturated soil from 6-plus inches of rain and wind gusts to about 60 mph. Phewwww!! Dodged that bullet!

    James, thanks for your interesting info. Maps in Burma/India such as those you have are rare! Curious Matt asks -- can you give two or three examples of scales and locations? Any Rangoon 1:25,000 maps?

    It would be great if the BL has "the" Imphal area map for you.

    Cheers,

    Matt
     
  17. eddie chandler

    eddie chandler Senior Member

  18. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Steve,

    To answer your question: Hurricane Sandy!! I lucked out big time, as did much of the Washington, DC area (only generally speaking -- many did suffer flooding, damage, and power outages). I didn't even lose power at Poole Manor, and no trees came down despite saturated soil from 6-plus inches of rain and wind gusts to about 60 mph. Phewwww!! Dodged that bullet!

    James, thanks for your interesting info. Maps in Burma/India such as those you have are rare! Curious Matt asks -- can you give two or three examples of scales and locations? Any Rangoon 1:25,000 maps?

    It would be great if the BL has "the" Imphal area map for you.

    Cheers,

    Matt

    Glad to hear you're ok Matt, my friends in New Jersey suffered badly. Great that you could help out James. Be in touch soon.

    Steve
     
  19. brickmaker

    brickmaker Senior Member

    Hi James
    The RK may well be the first two letters of the Universal Transverse Mercator projection grid. For GB the letters are either H,N,S or T followed by a second letter. Together, the two letters identify a 500x500km figure (not a square, as the world is round)
     
  20. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Eddie,

    That's promising info -- the fact that the BL has map sheet 92 D 3, because it means they do, indeed, hold Burma/India wartime British maps and hopefully will also hold the one covering Imphal. Thanks for adding your info.

    The 0.5" = 1 mile translates to a scale of 1:126,720, so an Imphal map in this series would be the same scale (agreeing with the margin info in that 1955 US-made 1:250,000). I'm guessing that there was no larger scale map (large scale maps show a small area in greater detail) during the war, just the 1:126,720. I hope I'm wrong!

    Cheers,

    Matt
     

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