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Article: : Escape from WWII POW Campsl

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    : Escape from WWII POW Campsl

    4 Comments by Doc Vernon Published on 29th March 2018 08:35 PM
    Interesting Part Of History (Per John Strange)


    Starting in 1940, an increasing number of British and Canadian 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-lam 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 (similar to America 's OSS ) 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 American board game Monopoly. 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, Italy, France or wherever Allied POW camps were located. 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!

    Many of you are (probably) too young to have any personal connection to WWII (Sep. '39 to Aug. '45), but this is still an interesting bit of history for everyone to know.



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    Default Re: : Escape from WWII POW Campsl

    This is an excerpt from Emmy award-winning documentary "Under the Boardwalk: The MONOPOLY Story" that explain how the game of MONOPOLY had secretly been used to help prisoners of war escape from prisoner camps in Europe during World War II. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1o4PD8ynPA
    "Our veterans did not forget about us .... Let's not forget about them." From Michael Levesque

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    Default Re: : Escape from WWII POW Campsl

    Thanks for posting that one Vernon, it is a very interesting story.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: : Escape from WWII POW Campsl

    A bit more on this Doc.

    Get Out of Jail Free – How Monopoly Helped Allied POWs Escape


    https://www.warhistoryonline.com/wor...ws-escape.html

    Keith.
    "Our veterans did not forget about us .... Let's not forget about them." From Michael Levesque

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    Default Re: : Escape from WWII POW Campsl

    I think my father, a Sergeant Pilot with a Spitfire squadron, would have benefited from such a map. They probably came later than his escape from Stalag Luft XI-C (Bad Sulza) in 1941 when he spent 3 weeks with another pilot making their way south for three weeks toward Frankfurt near where they had originally been transferred from at the Dalag Luft where they had been sent for 'interrogation' after capture (and where a previous escape attempt had failed). They accidentally managed to walk 'slap bang' into a disguised anti-aircraft battery. He did eventually manage an opportunistic escape in 1945 from the 'Long March North' from the Fallingsbostel POW camp when the allies were making their Northwards to Hamburg...so would probably not be have had the benefit of such a map. But thank you for this post. I have discovered a great deal about my father's time in German POW camps through other forums and archives.

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