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 map is drawn from an isometric perspective and is in the form of 20 separate, non-overlapping engravings. The assembled map is approximately 2.5m high by 3.2m wide. The original copper plates are kept at the Chalcography of the Louvre, where they are still used to reprint copies of the map which are available for purchase.