['Elephant' Military Route Map].
9.5 x 6.75 in (24.13 x 17.145 cm)
An extremely rare piece of British military history, this is a 1945 pictorial route map of the British 64th (London) Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery drawn by an artist known only as 'A.H.B.' Printed using a photographic process, the map follows an elephant (the insignia of the 64th) from Crete to the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, and finally, occupation duty in Germany.
The 64th (London) Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery and World War IIThe 64th Medium Regiment was created shortly before the outbreak of World War II from two batteries of the 53rd Medium Regiment. The regiment had been assigned to IV Corps by July 1940 and by the end of August was placed on aerodrome defense. It left for Egypt in late 1940 and was part of British Troops Egypt by January 1941.
The 64th went to Greece with the I Australian Corps in March 1941 as part of 'W Force' sent to help the Greeks fight the Greco-Italian War. Germany invaded Greece and Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, which started the Battle of Greece. The Germans forced the retreat of British, Commonwealth, and Greek troops, eventually forcing the evacuation of all Commonwealth troops to Crete by April 28. During the evacuation, the 64th lost all its guns. On Crete, some of the batteries were equipped with captured Italian artillery pieces, while the rest of the regiment was used as infantry. The Germans attacked Crete on May 20, and by May 31 all Commonwealth forces, including the 64th, were evacuated.
After arriving in Egypt, the 64th was reassembled in Syria (illustrated here) under the I Australian Corps. The regiment was back in Egypt by October, fighting with the Eighth Army, and participated in the capture of Bardia (referenced here in the upper right corner). After Bardia, the 64th fought across North Africa. It was with the XXX Corps at the Second Battle of El Alamein and on into Tunisia. Then, the regiment participated in the invasion and capture of Sicily, but was withdrawn before the invasion of mainland Italy with the rest of the XXX Corps. This fact must have irked some of the men in the regiment, as the elephant in Sicily is illustrated trumpeting across the Strait of Messina at Italy. The 64th left Sicily for Algeria (illustrated here - Algiers) on November 9 and left Algeria for the U.K. on November 29.
The 211th Battery landed on D-Day (June 6, 1944) in Normandy as part of the XXX Corps (illustrated here by the elephant in a landing ship named the Fort Creve Coeur). The regiment fought with the XXX Corps as part of the 5th Army Groups Royal Artillery across northern France and into Belgium. Then, on September 20, 1944, the 64th moved up the battle line. The following day, it assembled south of Nijmegen, in the Netherlands, in support of the Airborne troops participating in Operation Market Garden. While at Nijmegen, the 64th made radio contact with the 1st Airborne Division, which was trapped in Arnhem. (Arnhem is labeled here and the elephant overlooking the city has a radio antenna and headset. A road sign just below the elephant points to Nijmegen.) The 64th provided artillery support for the surrounded airborne troops until September 25, when the 1st Airborne was evacuated from Arnhem.
The 64th was with the XXX Corps during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and remained with the XXX Corps through VE Day. After VE Day, the regiment turned in its artillery pieces and was assigned to occupation duty in Germany. The 64th was formally disbanded in 1947.
World War II Route MapsMaps tracing a unit's movements during World War II were created by American and British units both during and after the war. As a genre, these maps represent a wide range of aesthetics, from the purely functional that label places and provide dates, to the artistic, even comic. Many combine the two and provide a visually striking but historically informative summary of the unit's peregrinations.
Publication History and CensusThis map was drawn by 'A.H.B.' in 1945, likely during occupation duty. Our best guess is that after the map was drawn members of the unit wanted copies to take home. Instead of seeking out a topographic company to print paper copies, the unit must have had easy access to photographic materials, leading to the creation of this piece. This is the only known cataloged example of this map. We have been unable to find any other references to its existence.
Very good. Photograph.