World War II Map

UPDATE: 2 Taiwanese researchers have taken posession of this map for research purposes, pursuant to publishing a book.

Unfortunately, I seldom see my father, so when I do have the chance to talk with him I usually try to get him to talk about his years in the war, when he was a navigator/bombardier on a B-24 Liberator. Back in the mid 90s, we got to talking about different aircraft and strategy when he excused himself from the room. After about 10 minutes he returned and produced an old tattered manila envelope marked “January 1956” which was a few months before I was born. What was inside that envelope was beyond my expectations.

He pulled out an old map. It was a 1943 Army Air Force air navigation map. As he unfolded it, a string fell out. This string was attached to the point of origin (their base) in China and was used as an aid in determining bearings on the map. Needless to say, I was rendered speechless upon realization of what I was looking at.


This is an overview of the map, showing how large it is. Those are standard Taiwanese floor tiles, so you can see that the map is quite large. Notice that the legend in the bottom right corner has been cut off. My father asked me if I knew why that part of the map might be missing. I replied that often, engineers will cut the scale off of the map and use it as a ruler to measure distances directly from the map. Its a shame that the scale is missing, but by it being missing it also proves that this was a working map, used for mission planning.


In this photo you can see the cellophane tape that holds the end of the string in place. The POO (Point of Origin) is their airbase in China. This map shows bearings and distances to actual bombing targets along the coast of China.


This closeup of the map shows Taiwan, under Japanese occupation. The names of the cities are in Japanese, and also call signs of military radio stations are Japanese, according to the ITU table of callsign allocation. This map contains so many features that I was able to give my father a 3 hour discourse on all of the elements (I am a map expert and professional field engineer of many years).

I would like to place this map in a museum as the historical significance of this map is immeasurable. If anyone has suggestions, I am certainly open to them. This map is my most prized possession and I want to see it preserved and available for everyone to enjoy.

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3 comments

  1. MJ, I enjoyed your site when Googling for info on US bombings of Taiwan in ’45. My wife was recollecting the bombs that fell on a tea factory (!!) near Hsinchu when she was a child. Her friend, who lived in Ilan, recalled similar overflights when we were chatting over a Johnny Walker this weekend Meantime, as the rain comes down in Cambridge, Mass. you bring me happiness remembering my last “homeland” visit in March of ’06.

  2. Timberline, thanks for your comment.

    recently i’ve acquired some photos of Hukou (in Hsinchu) being bombed, taken from the bomber that did the run. i’m trying to find some old timers in the area to see if they can tell me where those places are. I’ve got shots of the Hsinchu aerodrome being pelted by 500 pounders too. i wish i was there to hang out with you guys. i used to live in Somerville, so i’m sure i could find you! take care.

  3. To be more specific, my wife Hsiu-yen was a 6-year-old in Bei Pu a few miles from Chu Dung. Neither was of any strategic value. Her more vivid memories were of the Kuomintang and the mess they made of the temple they used as a barracks near her house.
    Just finished reading about the Japanese prison camp at Chinguashi near Keelung. I visited the copper mine last year, admired the mine director’s golf course, and had a wonderful bento lunch never knowing how many Brits died there.
    Drop me an e-mail at w.giersbach@att.net if you’d like to see pix.

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