Cool piece of History - I thought this was fascinating!
Starting in 1941, an increasing number of BritishAirmen found themselves as the involuntary guestsof the Third Reich, and the Crown was casting aboutfor ways and means to facilitate their escape. Nowobviously, one of the most helpful aids to that endis a useful and accurate map, one showing not onlywhere stuff was, but also showing the locations of'safe houses' where a POW on-the-lam could go forfood and shelter.Paper maps had some real drawbacks -- they makea lot of noise when you open and fold them, theywear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn intomush.Someone in MI-5 (similar to America’s OSS ) gotthe idea of printing escape maps on silk. It'sdurable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads,and unfolded as many times as needed, andmakes no noise whatsoever.At that time, there was only one manufacturerin Great Britain that had perfected the technologyof printing on silk, and that was JohnWaddington, Ltd. When approached by thegovernment, the firm was only too happy to doits bit for the war effort.By pure coincidence, Waddington was also theU.K. Licensee for the popular American boardgame, Monopoly. As it happened, 'games andpastimes' was a category of item qualified forinsertion into 'CARE packages', dispatched bythe International Red Cross to prisoners of war.Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securelyguarded and inaccessible old workshop onthe grounds of Waddington's, a group ofsworn-to-secrecy employees began massproducing escape maps, keyed to eachregion of Germany or Italy where AlliedPOW camps were regional system).When processed, these maps could be foldedinto such tiny dots that they would actuallyfit inside a Monopoly playing piece.As long as they were at it, the clever workmenat Waddington's also managed to add:1. A playing token, containing a small magneticcompass2. A two-part metal file that could easily bescrewed together3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denominationGerman, Italian, andFrench currency, hidden within the piles ofMonopoly money!British and American air crews were advised,before taking off on their first mission, howto identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set -- by meansof a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to looklike an ordinary printing glitch, located in thecorner of the Free Parking square.Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS whosuccessfully escaped, an estimated one-thirdwere aided in their flight by the rigged Monopolysets... Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecyIndefinitely, since the British Government mightwant to use this highly successful ruse in stillanother, future war. The story wasn't declassifieduntil 2007, when the surviving craftsmen fromWaddington's, as well as the firm itself, werefinally honoured in a public ceremony.It's always nice when you can play that ’Get Outof Jail' Free' card!I realize many of you are (probably) too youngto have any personal connection to WWII(Dec. '41 to Aug. '45), but this is still interesting.
HT:A via email