Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Geography

Advisor(s)

Mark Monmonier

Keywords

Cartography, David Woodward, History of Cartography, Military Cartography, Palestine Campaign, World War I

Subject Categories

Geography

Abstract

World War I sparked numerous innovations in military cartography. In the Palestine theater as elsewhere, the British and Dominion forces leveraged new technologies, including aerial photography and wireless intercepts, to supplement their use of intelligence to map enemy troop positions. The creation and distribution of these position maps by the 7th Field Survey Company for the 3rd Battle of Gaza in late 1917 represented an innovative process of intelligence gathering, map production, and knowledge distribution. This thesis not only examines the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) along with its subordinate intelligence assets and cartographic organizations as a comprehensive mapping system, but also elaborates upon David Woodward's cartographic framework to study the creation of the 7th Field Survey Company's operation maps. Woodward's framework divides the map production process into four phases: information gathering, information processing, document distribution, and document use. Elements of the EEF were involved in each of these phases during the 3rd Battle of Gaza. Ground reconnaissance, aerial photography, prisoner interrogation, and wireless intercepts contributed to the information gathering phase along with topographic surveys and aerial photogrammetry used to produce the base maps on which Turkish positions were plotted. In the information processing phase intelligence officers, commanders, and draftsmen analyzed, synthesized, and reconciled the gathered information and plotted the results in a series of maps on a nearly daily basis spanning more than a month of increasingly mobile military operations. In the document distribution phase, the EEF chain of command distributed these maps to subordinate headquarters. In the document use phase, these subordinate headquarters used the position maps to plan and conduct operations. This system was cyclical insofar as the operations that these maps helped to facilitate also gathered further information that fed into the next cycle's product. As the condition of the battlefield and the nature of the operations changed, so too did the value of various modes of intelligence gathering, with varying effects on the accuracy and utility of the position maps. This study relies on primary materials such as unit war diaries, personal diaries and memoirs, and intelligence records to connect items of intelligence in these documents to changes in the successive position maps. These connections underscore the importance of different types of intelligence during various points of the battle's changing conditions: as conditions on the battlefield became more fluid the EEF began to rely more on single sources of intelligence rather than on a synthesis of multiple sources, with a resulting degradation in accuracy. Even so, the success of the position map technique is apparent in its reintroduction prior to the EEF's final offensive in 1918.

Access

Open Access

Included in

Geography Commons

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