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Author Topic: It's all in the game....  (Read 2036 times)

Offline Tom E. Gunn

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It's all in the game....
« on: June 01, 2016, 06:09:21 AM »
Starting in 1939, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich and the Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape...

Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map, one showing not only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of 'safe houses' where a POW on-the-run could go for food and shelter.

Paper maps had some real drawbacks -- they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn into mush.

Someone in MI-5 got the idea of printing escape maps on silk.  It's durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed and makes no noise whatsoever.

At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk and that was John Waddington, Ltd.  When approached by the government, the firm was only too happy to do its bit for the war effort.

By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular board game, Monopoly and as it happened, 'games and pastimes' was a category of item qualified for insertion into 'CARE packages', dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war.

Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps where.  When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.

As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington's also managed to add:
1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass
2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together
3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!

British and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set -- by means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square.

Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use this highly successful ruse in still another, future war.

The story wasn't declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm itself, were finally honored in a public ceremony.

It's always nice when you can play that 'Get Out of Jail Free' card!
 
« Last Edit: June 01, 2016, 08:13:43 AM by Tom E. Gunn »
"He who dares, wins!"

Offline Tom E. Gunn

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Re: It's all in the game....
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2016, 08:12:58 AM »
"He who dares, wins!"

Offline littlebuddy

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Re: It's all in the game....
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2016, 01:10:37 PM »
Well ill go to the foot of our stairs !!!  thats pretty ingenoius !!  and so simple an idea !!   

It had to be a British idea  ;D
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Offline m151mp

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Re: It's all in the game....
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2016, 04:10:19 PM »
that's pretty impressive. i have read other articles about escape items hidden in various places, but this was new to me. seems like you lot had your thinking caps on, eh? all they needed was a "liberator" pistol...
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Offline David

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Re: It's all in the game....
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2016, 07:28:12 PM »
Ingenious method of concealing escape equipment :) I have never heard of that one before.

Apparently during the First World War many potential officer escapees simply mailed away directly to British map shops, tailors, etc. for the relevant escape equipment and civilian clothing they required, being trusted as officers and gentlemen. Early on in the piece they could receive practically what ever they wanted, within reason and with impunity from the German POW authorities, until sometime later when they caught on ;D
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Offline Scarecrow

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Re: It's all in the game....
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2016, 12:38:06 PM »
New one on me!  Thanks Ian.

Offline Air Ministry

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Re: It's all in the game....
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2016, 11:35:47 AM »
The boards were identified by the red dot on the free parking i believe.
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