I really wish I had started messing with InDesign far sooner; maybe then I wouldn’t be in so big a jam. My decision to first finish the maps and the text and only then open up InDesign and start fooling with it has backfired a bit: I’ve been rather unsuccessfully messing with it for the past few days and haven’t made much progress, and now after staying up all night to mess with it I decided to check my Mason e-mail this morning and noticed the message from Tuesday with all the InDesign tips. Sigh…
Other than that, though, the final project is coming along rather well. My maps are actually one map that changes to show the shifting conditions. My project is Operation Market-Garden, the Allied attempt to outflank the fortified border between Germany and France by swinging up through Holland, seizing a series of key bridges in an airborne assault and then punching through with tanks. Unfortunately for the Allies, the plan was far too ambitious, and when things started to go wrong the plan faltered and crumbled. My main map is a Sketchup map highlighting the road through Holland the Allies would push up, with the key bridges and towns raised and color-coded to show who possessed them. First, the battle plan: every bridge highlighted (6 in all) was to be seized intact on the first day. Second, the situation by the end of the first day, when things had already started to go wrong, with 2 of the crucial bridges destroyed and only 2 of the 6 in any way “secure.” Finally, the situation at the end of the battle, with a large Allied salient into Holland, vulnerable to German attacks.
It has been pretty interesting doing the research for and construction of these maps, and not only because of the new (for me, anyway) technology tools I have been able to use/be incredibly frustrated by. In particular, I never really was able to come to grips with how fatally flawed the operation was until I started putting together the map of the first day. I have read countless times of Market-Garden’s intricate plan and how difficult–some would say impossible–it would be to pull it off. But it was not until I compiled the situation map of the first day and compared it to the map of what was supposed to happen that I got a sense of how even the slightest German resistance severely set back the plan, and how monumental was the task Allied commanders had given the soldiers carrying out the operation. “A Bridge To Far,” indeed.
For years when thinking of Market-Garden and talking about it in my reenactment group, I had focused on the negative: how foolish an idea it was, how warnings of strong German resistance were ignored, and how devastating a setback it was for the forces involved and the Allied war effort as a whole. But after this project, I see the story of Market-Garden in a whole new way: despite how daunting a task it was, and despite all the setbacks along the way, how close the plan came to succeeding.
(Pictures later. Sleep now.)