Saturday, June 26, 2010

Let Me Tell You A Great Story...!

Often when we hear a story, it seems to far fetched to be factual.

But many times, additional study proves that the story turns out to be true. This is just such a story.

It reads like a novel...full of top secret workers, secret instructions, clandestine air drops, and everyday escape plans that would stretch the imagination of most Hollywood screen writers! That's what makes it so special! Verified through's a story I just know you are going to like!

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 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 or Italy where Allied POW camps were 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 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!

Man, if any story fully deserves to be made into a movie...this is it! I guess that this is truly a case of truth being stranger than fiction!

Now, my friends, let's have some fresh coffee or iced tea on the patio. I have both and, as always, it's free!


Grumpyunk said...

+1 on the movie idea.

Ben in Texas said...

Interesting what they came up with and I'll second the movie idea as well, but Hollywood would screw it up I betcha. They couldn't tell it like it was, won't want to upset anyone or hurt anyone's feelings.

One they made it "politically" correct, it won't be anywhere near the truth

Mechanic in Illinois said...

It seems the small and simple things that really make a difference. Thank God for the simple guys in life that really save us. Thanks for another great lesson.

HermitJim said...

Hey Grumpyunk...
It would make one heck of a movie, wouldn't it?

Maybe as good as the great escape!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Ben...
Guess the boys in the gadget sections were always coming up with new stuff! This was a great idea!

Hopefully, Hollywood wouldn't screw it up too badly!

Thanks for the visit today, buddy!

Hey Mechanic...
I'm sure that to the prisoners, this was a real Godsend! Simple but effective!

We could use some of that thinking today!

I appreciate you coming by today!

Momlady said...

So glad you shared the story. Hope your weekend is super.

HermitJim said...

Hey Momlady...
I appreciate you sharing tis with me in the first place!

I love these little bits of history, and the fact that it was actually used is one thing that makes it so great!

I should have credited you with the story, but being so forgetful, I didn't!

Sorry about that, dear lady!

Thanks for coming by today!

Ken said... while back heard sumthin about one of these,fetched a ton of money at an auction,or estate sale, or whatever,anyway they kept refering to the "red dot" thing... i know !


The cottage by the Cranelake said...

Fantastic story! Thanks for posting it here!
By the way, it was impossible to post any comments here for a very long time yesterday! Nothing happened when I tried to click on "post a comment". Glad it works now again!
Have a great day now!