This summer, the Canadian Research and Mapping Association (CRMA) will launch a massive initiative to help commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Normandy. The CMEA received the letter below along with some sample images from their work. One of the most important aspects of their effort is telling the too often overlooked Sapper story.
After reading the letter, you are encouraged to look at their website at https://www.project44.ca/ to get an appreciation for the depth and quality of their work. Please consider supporting this endeavour.
The Project ‘44 website will combine basemaps, unit positions, and war diaries into an online experience focused on the First Canadian Army and the Victory Campaign.
This is the first initiative of the Canadian Research and Mapping Association (CRMA), a not-for-profit organization specializing in digital preservation, collection management systems, and mapping military history.
The CRMA was formed in the Fall of 2018 and is led by Executive Director Nathan Kehler, a former Geomatics Technician from 2 Combat Engineer Regiment. Included on the CRMA’s Board of Directors are serving or former Sappers, including Colonel (Retd) Mark Gasparotto, Capt Stephan Gurgurewicz, and WO John Girard.
This is a massive undertaking and the CRMA team has spent months meticulously collecting data on where units were fighting day-by-day in Normandy. This includes the typical infantry and armoured units, as well as the engineer field companies, the artillery regiments and other supporting arms such as the RCAF, and ships of the RCN.
To map the over 16,000 unit positions the team has used Allied and German situation maps and Canadian war diaries to map the 87 days of combat. This includes American, British, French, Polish and German units from the Army to Division level, and all Division, Brigade and Battalion units from the First Canadian Army.
Thousands of supporting documents such as after-action reports, unit strengths, casualty and operations reports will be paired with the unit positions, allowing a new depth of research and understanding to the Battle of Normandy.
Since the beginning of Project ’44, the team has been working with museums and organizations from across Canada who have shown their support for the project and the team is committed to preserving and sharing their Regimental histories.
Lastly, with a community of volunteers over 70 war diaries from the Battle of Normandy are meticulously being converted into word documents, which will allow these incredible stories to be viewed on a website with searchable and interactive text. Canadians will now be able to understand the history of where Canadian units fought and read what happened through the converted war diaries.
What is next after Project ‘44? With Project ’44 complete the CRMA will continue onto Project ’45 and finish the Victory Campaign as we follow the First Canadian Army into Belgium, Holland and Germany. Future projects include the Italian Campaign, the Korean War and an exciting initiative called “Project Athena”.
CRMA’s goal is to bring the story of Canada’s military heritage to the forefront and show it in a way that is accessible and easy to understand and ensure the story of the Sappers in Normandy is as accurate as possible.
To do so CRMA is actively looking to partner with engineer regiments and associations across Canada as they raise funds for the development of Project ’44.
Social Media Links Facebook.com/canada1944