Mapping up in 1919

Today at work (yes, I managed to stagger in on top of Mr Gouty Foot) Heather had me doing something different to the usual cataloguing onto the system. Today she kept delivering boxes of books to my desk with the instruction to Dispose or Keep depending on certain criteria. I don’t know how many boxes there are altogether but I managed to get through quite a few.

The criteria was pretty simple. If we had at least one on the system they went into the Dispose pile unless they had been donated. If we didn’t have one and the copy was in good condition, they went into the Keep pile.

All the time I was sorting through the books, a bunch of moving guys were working with squeaky trolleys, moving stuff out of the store into the back of a van ahead of the big move. It’s odd how, after so long of nothing seeming to happen, it’s now all gone a bit mental.

In fact, this morning, I went in through the main doors which have had a scaffold in front of them since I started. This has made direct egress impossible so we’re forced to go into the side entrance.

Soon, or so Nick says, I’ll no longer need a pass because the library entrance will not be on the base. That will be a good day. Particularly after today’s run in with the most unpleasant security guy I’ve met so far. Which is a shame because most of them are lovely people. Then there’s this one.

However, back in the library…among the boxes of books I also had a couple of odd objects. Most notably was a big, very dusty, paper wrapped and tied up with string, brown box with a label on the front. Apart from the label, there was nothing else to indicate where it had come from or why.

The box contained various documents. The main one was the actual report (a rather dry piece in early 20th century government-speak. Then there was a load of cloth bound maps showing the various locations of defences along the coast.

The report was organised by the joint defence services (Navy, Army, newly created Air Force) as well as including translations of captured German documents. And it turned out to be quite handy for when the Germans returned for the second time. It is very comprehensive.

Most impressive was the volume of coloured plates that accompanied the report. Rather than tinted black and white photographs, the report committee used artists to draw and colour the various defence buildings and anything else of interest.

These small paintings (they look like pastels) are an absolute delight and turn something quite military into things of beauty.

I only had time to photograph one example before it was all bound back up and stored away somewhere.

Sketch showing camouflage of emplacement

This is the Oldenburg Battery (no 28). It looks like a farmhouse. It’s actually a concrete bunker with a farmhouse painted on the side of it. You can see the gun in what looks like a little shed at the side of the farmhouse that isn’t.

There was also fake fakes created along the coast. The Germans built bunkers and disguised them as other buildings then didn’t use them for anything. This was to confuse the Allies. I call that very clever.

That was pretty much it for my exciting day at the library.

I then had (for the first time, admittedly) a delayed train from Portsmouth. This wouldn’t really have been a problem (the hold up was 20 minutes) but because I catch three different modes of transport, the time adds up cumulatively. This meant I was over an hour late home. Which, in turn, meant I couldn’t collect the dogs from Sue until after 7pm.

Still, a good day and the girls certainly weren’t complaining.

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