Striking Second World War “Nav War Map” of the Mediterranean

Prepared by The Educational Services Section Bureau of Naval Personnel / U.S. Government Printing Office, Nav War Map No. 1 : The Mediterranean. Washington: Navy Department, 1944.
Offset lithograph printed in color recto and verso, printed area 38”h x 57”w plus imprint and margins. Minor breaks at fold intersections, a bit of edge wear, and some chipping at corners.

A mammoth and colorful “Nav War Map” of the Mediterranean issued by the U.S. Navy near the end of World War II.

This impressive, separately-published propaganda map was produced in 1944 to highlight the strategic importance of the Mediterranean, which “offers many approaches to Fortress Europe.” It also emphasizes Allied successes there during the Second World War, giving particular attention to the role played by massive Allied fleets in supporting the invasions of North Africa (1942) and Sicily (1943).

The map is printed in somber tones of black, brown and blue-gray, with symbols indicating cities of various sizes, naval bases and airfields. Various naval fleets and air squadrons are shown in tiny bird’s-eye view, their movements indicated by bold arrows, with tiny vignettes depicting the British raid on Taranto (1940), the scuttling of the French navy at Toulon (1942), the North Africa and Sicily landings, and other major events. Dashed red and yellow lines indicate areas of North Africa and Italy occupied by American and British armies, reflecting the status quo as of early 1944. The lower half of the map provides a variety of statistical information, a timeline of American naval activities in the region reaching back to 1801, and an inset map showing the value of Allied air bases in Sardinia, southern Italy and Turkey. The overall impression is one of complete Allied dominance in and around the Mediterranean, though at the time most of Southern Europe remained firmly under Axis control.

This map of the Mediterranean is one of six “Nav War Maps” issued in 1944 by the U.S. Navy, including five focusing on different theatre of war and a sixth providing a global overview. All are visually compelling, with vibrant colors and energetic graphic design—most notably the use of bold arrows to indicate movements of the opposing forces.

Maps such as this help make an excellent case that Second World War material deserves an honored niche in the antiquarian map market. The magnitude, horror and importance of the events shown; the skill with which they are here depicted; and the propagandistic tone render this a piece worthy of both display and study.

Curtis & Pedersen, War Map, pp. 184-187 (illus.) OCLC 83981968 et al.



Old folds with some wrinkling and a few tiny breaks at intersections, else excellent.