All belligerents entered the war supplied with small-scale, ungridded topographical maps of the expected area of operations. Soon, with trench warfare, it was realised that accurate large-scale gridded maps (1:20,000-1:25,000), with tactical intelligence plotted from air-photos, were essential for the planning and control of indirect artillery fire; such maps had previously only been prepared for the attack and defence of fortresses. Although their prewar general staffs had sections responsible for maps and survey, all belligerents had to improvise field survey organisations to create and print large-scale maps, to conduct the necessary surveys, and to provide the essential firing data for the artillery. Meanwhile the existing national survey departments rapidly responded to the new requirements by producing enlargements of existing maps. All together, Britain printed 34 million war maps, France over 30 million, and Germany a staggering 775 million (including the Eastern Front). These unprecedented totals give some idea of the requirements of mass armies. This paper examines the approaches taken by the main protagonists to military mapping on the Western Front.
Chasseaud, P. (2002). British, French and German Mapping and Survey on the Western Front in the First World War (pp. 171–204). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-1550-8_12