Sunday, January 21, 2018

WW2 | Did British Maps Mislead the Luftwaffe?

Luftwaffe Bombers.
January 21, 2018 – When Hitler decided to move on from the London Blitz, having failed to break British morale, he opted to drop bombs by night all over Britain. These raids were collectively called the Baedeker Bombing, after the famed German travel guides. 

The Luftwaffe pilots used as their bombing guides German "Operation Sea Lion" maps and photographs. The Nazis planned to invade Britain and the German military prepared for this by generating maps of Britain with the bridges and factories marked on them.

What the Germans did was pick up British postcards for their target areas, as well as British Ordnance Survey maps that were marked with symbols of bridges, railway junctions, airfields and munitions factories.

Maps for the planned German invasion are available in Oxford at the Bodleian. They require a day's notice or more for retrieval from the library's off-site storage. The Bodleian has prepared a small book on the German invasion and was selling it in 2007 for £5.50 (
The Motor Works are identified in the Sea Lion invasion
maps under the L and E of COWLEY. But they are not
identified as RAF aircraft repair shops. The Motor
Works are shown as #13; the Postcard Number is 14.

Although the Luftwaffe dropped 4,100 bombs on Oxfordshire in World War II, Oxford was spared except for a couple of stray bombs. 

I found hard to understand why so little attention was paid to a major military target in Oxford, the Cowley Motor Works, where damaged military aircraft were repaired and sent back into service, sometimes using parts salvaged from German planes. The answer seems to be that the German military was using out-of-date maps and did not have information to update them.

Looking at the German maps, the Cowley factory appears to have been spared because it is not marked as a military-production site on the old maps the Germans used. 
The Morris Motor Works are identified on the Sea Lion invasion papers as No. 14,
whereas it is No. 13 on the map.

The maps and related postcards are available at the New York Public Library, for which they were acquired in September 1950. They are also stored off-site and require a day's notice to retrieve. 

The NYPL will routinely hold books for a week at the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division on the First Floor of the Schwartzman Building. This building is the name of the Main Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue – the building with the two lions in front, opposite 500 Fifth Avenue, where the Oxford North America Office is located.

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