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Red Atlas featured in The Sunday Times

on Fri, 07/28/2017 - 11:50

Russian spies travelled the length and breadth of Britain, mapping cities and towns in preparation for an invasion, researchers have found.

Agents measured the widths of roads, the height of bridges and pinpointed strategic buildings such as factories and military bases. The data was sent to the Soviet Union to make maps more detailed than those by Ordnance Survey, the UK’s mapping agency.

The disclosure in a new book, The Red Atlas, follows the discovery of thousands of Soviet-era maps in an old military depot in Latvia — where invasion forces were stationed until the 1990s. “Starting from 1950, the Soviet army conducted a secret programme in which they mapped Britain in exquisite detail,” said John Davies, a cartographer and co-author of The Red Atlas.

The mapping programme, which also covered other European countries and America, was begun under Stalin and Khrushchev. At its peak it involved a dozen mapping “factories” producing tens of thousands of maps, which were stored in military depots.

“Their maps of Britain show far more detail than on contemporary maps from Ordnance Survey,” said Alexander Kent, president of the British Cartographic Society, Davies’s co-author.

A 1982 Soviet map of Chatham Dockyard, in Kent, where British nuclear submarines were built and maintained, shows every building, even though the area was secret and excluded from British maps. Similarly, a 1950 soviet map of Pembroke Dock, in west Wales, shows a seaplane base that was excluded from British maps.

See full review here

Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World
John Davies, Alexander J. Kent
ISBN 9780226389578
Hardback, £26.50

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