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Wed Feb 13, 2019, 08:54 AM

How Allied Flyers Used Monopoly to Escape From German POW Camps

https://militaryhistorynow.com/2012/12/20/how-allied-fliers-used-monopoly-to-escape-from-german-pow-camps/

For captured Allied flyers in World War Two, Monopoly was more than just a way to kill the long hours of idleness in German POW camps — it was a veritable tool box for helping them escape. That’s because beginning in 1941, British military intelligence rigged thousands of boxes of the popular board game with tools, compasses, European currency and even tiny maps that prisoners could use to make their way to freedom. All the equipment was miniaturized and pasted into the board, hidden within the bundles of game money, crammed into the tokens, or even packed into the tiny houses and hotels. What’s more amazing is that the games containing these secret escape kits were unwittingly distributed to POWs as part of care packages right under the nose of German prison guards.

According to a 2009 story on ABC News, MI9 (the wartime military intelligence division concerned with helping prisoners escape) worked with the British game maker Waddingtons to craft the equipment-laden copies of the game. For its part, the publisher was sworn to secrecy, lest the Germans get wind of the scheme. Once the specialized copies of Monopoly were ready to be shipped, Allied flyers were advised that if captured, they should watch for the top secret escape kits. Those containing tools would be specially marked with an innocuous looking red ink blot on the Free Parking space.

Aside from the tiny two-piece screw-together metal file and the miniature compass hidden in the game, perhaps the most incredible accomplishment of the escape kits’ designers were the tiny maps packed into the game’s hotels. Printed on silk, as opposed to paper, the maps could be folded and unfolded without tearing or wrinkling and could be very easily concealed. According to the article, the maps were possibly the most vital element of the kit — once POWs were outside of the wire, the maps would show the flyers how to get to friendly or neutral territory.

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Reply How Allied Flyers Used Monopoly to Escape From German POW Camps (Original post)
Sherman A1 Feb 2019 OP
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 2019 #1
Sherman A1 Feb 2019 #6
Harker Feb 2019 #2
Wounded Bear Feb 2019 #3
IronLionZion Feb 2019 #4
Sherman A1 Feb 2019 #7
ananda Feb 2019 #5
geardaddy Feb 2019 #8
eppur_se_muova Feb 2019 #9
Sherman A1 Feb 2019 #10

Response to Sherman A1 (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2019, 09:22 AM

1. This is fascinating

Thanks for posting!

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 13, 2019, 11:33 AM

6. My pleasure

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Response to Sherman A1 (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2019, 10:58 AM

2. Get out of jail free!

How ingenious people can be when imprisoned in harrowing circumstances has long been a particular interest of mine.

Thanks for posting this article.

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Response to Sherman A1 (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2019, 11:10 AM

3. Cool story!

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Response to Sherman A1 (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2019, 11:18 AM

4. The master race didn't know a gay British nerd had cracked their Enigma code either

Hate makes people stupid as hell.

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Response to IronLionZion (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 13, 2019, 11:35 AM

7. They also didn't know that there was a group in British Intelligence

that was training allied airmen how to get out based upon what was accomplished in World War I.

This book details some of the heroics.

http://nealbascomb.com/books-bascomb/the-escape-artist/

THE ESCAPE ARTISTS: A BAND OF DAREDEVIL PILOTS AND THE GREATEST PRISON BREAK OF THE GREAT WAR

In the winter trenches and flak-filled skies of World War I, soldiers and pilots alike might avoid death, only to find themselves imprisoned in Germany’s archipelago of POW camps, often in abominable conditions. The most infamous was Holzminden, a land-locked Alcatraz of sorts that housed the most troublesome, escape-prone prisoners. Its commandant was a boorish, hate-filled tyrant named Karl Niemeyer who swore that none should ever leave.

Desperate to break out of “Hellminden” and return to the fight, a group of Allied prisoners led by ace pilot (and former Army sapper) David Gray hatch an elaborate escape plan. Their plot demands a risky feat of engineering as well as a bevy of disguises, forged documents, fake walls, and steely resolve. Once beyond the watch towers and round-the-clock patrols, Gray and almost a dozen of his half-starved fellow prisoners must then make a heroic 150 mile dash through enemy-occupied territory towards free Holland.

Drawing on never-before-seen memoirs and letters, Neal Bascomb brings this narrative to cinematic life, amid the twilight of the British Empire and the darkest, most savage hours of the fight against Germany. At turns tragic, funny, inspirational, and nail-biting suspenseful, this is the little-known story of the biggest POW breakout of the Great War.

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Response to Sherman A1 (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2019, 11:33 AM

5. Very interesting!

Whodathunkit?

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Response to Sherman A1 (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2019, 11:39 AM

8. That's cool

I have one question, though: how did they put the maps into a solid piece of wood? In my mom's 1940s version of the game, the houses and hotels are solid pieces of wood, not hollow pieces of plastic, like they are today.

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Response to Sherman A1 (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2019, 11:41 AM

9. The US had its own program, MIS-X ...

I remembered seeing the cribbage board with a built-in radio set in a documentary on public TV.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIS-X
https://www.nps.gov/articles/forthuntww2.htm
https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93640350

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 13, 2019, 12:30 PM

10. Thanks for posting

and adding to the discussion. It's amazing what these folks came up with to find workarounds to get the material in to the POWs camps and to help those held escape.

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