Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Sometime a Monopoly is good.


Starting in 1941, 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-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 si lk. 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 or
Italy where Allied POW camps were located (Red Cross packages
were delivered to pr isoners in accordance with that same
regional system). 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 de-classified until 2007, when the
surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm
itself, were finally honored in a public ceremony.
Anyway, it's always nice when you can play that 'Get Out of Jail
Free' card.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 7th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
Wow! That is amazing. I know that my father tried to escape, but was captured each time and put in solitary confinement under the ground. I wonder if he had a Monopoly game. He never talked about any of it. That is amazing.

I decide to snope it as it sounded too amazing to be true. I find this, so it is true, just slightly modified.

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )



Latest Month

January 2019


Page Summary

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow