After declaring war with Germany on April 6, 1917, the War Department looked to the Geological Survey to provide topographers and surveyors for service at home and in France. In the United States, it was necessary to make special surveys of sites for munitions plants, testing ground, artillery ranges, airplane and balloon fields, and cantonments.
In France, topographers were assigned to the 29th Engineer Battalion under the command of Col. Roger G. Alexander, U.S. Army. Many of the existing maps were more than 50 years old and inadequate for modern warfare. Under his command, topographers coordinated the use of aerial photographs to obtain information on German trenches and troop dispositions and the production of Army maps.
Proud of their service, the Topographic Branch Chief Geographer Marshall displayed this Service flag print in his office. Printed on both sides and bottom, are the names of all the men who served.