Remember WWII With Maps & Diaries From Project’44
It’s Remembrance Week and as you take the time to learn about and reflect on WWI and WWII, I urge you to explore a fantastic resource called Project’44: The Road to Liberation.
Project’44 is an online map of the First Canadian Army (FCA) throughout WWII. It was co-created by Nathan Kehler and Drew Hannen from the Canadian Research and Mapping Association (CRMA) and is funded in part by Veterans Canada. CRMA partnered with Library and Archives Canada and worked for over two years to their digitize FCA daily war diaries, so that they could be available as a web map. The 1946 aerial imagery of the Normandy front was supplied by the Institute National de L’information Geographique et Forestiere (IGN).
The CRMA team started with the Battle of Normandy (taking place from D-Day in June 1944 to August 1944) and used their expertise in database management and GIS to create the world’s largest and comprehensive digital database of unit positions. The team and volunteers spent over 5000 hours collecting, digitizing and preserving Canada’s military history. They mapped 20,000 unit positions on 200+ maps with data from 70 war diaries, 37 RCAF log-books and dozens of RCN logs. Since the start of the project, the team was able to extend the mapping and display unit positions to the end of the war: Victory in Europe, May 1945. The new information included displaying other Allied and German positions.
Anyone can explore unique basemaps, original topographic maps, and satellite imagery, as well as focus on specific battles. The site also features copies of the war diaries for those who want to read them. The public can follow the stories of notable soldiers through “story maps”. These story maps were put together through an initiative with Defining Moments Canada and the Juno Beach Centre.
The next stage of Project’44 will go back to 1943 and map out the Italian Campaign. Stay tuned as this is slated to be unveiled in 2021.