A portion of a ‘body density map’ created in 1918 by…

A portion of a ‘body density map’ created in 1918 by Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Messer. Lt.-Col. Messer was engaged in an attempt to record battlefield crosses and have the bodies of soldiers moved and re-interred in cemeteries.

This is a section of a map depicting an area of the Somme battlefield, one of the largest battles of the war. Each small square on this map is an area of 83 by 83 yards; each blue number written in these squares represents the number of soldiers killed in that area. So, for example, in the top-right quadrant of area S-10, Lt.-Col. Messer counted 808 dead.

The Battle of the Somme lasted for almost three months in the summer of 1916. More than 1,000,000 men were wounded or killed; it was one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

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