Our team employs modern technology to digitize and preserve historical documents such as the official military War Diaries from the Canadian Normandy Campaign. Through partnerships with institutions such as Wilfred Laurier University and the Library and Archives Canada, relevant documents like the War Diaries are being located, scanned and processed through a series of steps in order to fully harness their potential use. Once digitized, these War Diaries are processed through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to convert them into a more accessible digital word document with which even more research becomes feasible. Within these diaries, officers would record the conditions, weather, and events of each day during the campaign. Most importantly, they recorded specific information regarding the daily locations of their unit’s headquarters. With this spatial information, our team can map out the exact locations of individual Canadian military units (from the Divisional-level down to the Brigades) from D-Day on June 6th to the closing of the Falaise Gap in August 1944. From there, the possibilities for utilizing this data becomes virtually limitless.
One of the objectives of Project ‘44 is to research, process and archive the aerial photographs of Normandy during WW2. Our team has been assembling finding aids and supporting documents from the Royal Canadian Air Force to stitch together aerial coverage from the Normandy Campaign in the weeks leading up to and during the invasion. By stitching the dozens of reconnaissance images together, our team is producing a series of mosaics which possess an incredible level of detail. These images and historical mosaics will give a unique perspective to the campaign few Canadians have been able to discover.
The primary mandate of Project ’44 is education and preservation. Images such as these, which have remained largely hidden from the Canadian public for the last 75 years, remain invaluable for researching and documenting these historical events. Creating digital versions of these records will not only broaden their accessibility, but also allow for their preservation in a format in accordance with contemporary archival standards. From there, the aerial photography will be open for use by other historical communities in future research endeavors.
Stitching aerial imagery to give new battlefield perspective!
Project ‘44 will be showcasing maps of the Normandy Campaign that have rarely been seen since the end of WW2. These maps were used by the soldiers of the First Canadian Army to take the beaches of Juno, navigate the French countryside, capture the town of Caen and beyond. Detailed maps showing the extensive German defensive positions on the Caen – Falaise highway will highlight the seemingly-unending lines of machine guns and anti-tank guns the Canadians had to fight through during Operation TOTALIZE and TRACTABLE. These maps were used daily by officers as low as the Section Commanders all the way to the General Officer Commanding II Canadian Corps. The visual nature of these maps will allow Canadians to gain a deeper understanding of the treacherous first steps our soldiers had to take en route to liberating France.