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Great Escapes: The story of MI9’s Second World War escape and evasion maps

Author: Barbara Bond
Pages: 264
Format: Hardback
Publication Date: 22/10/2015
ISBN: 978-0-00-814130-1

The definitive history of MI9’s emergency escape and evasion mapping programme and the contribution the maps made to victory in 1945. Fascinating stories of secret maps used by prisoners of World War II.

The creation of MI9 in December 1939, the rationale for the new military intelligence branch and the context of the history of military mapping on silk is outlined. The map production programme is described, together with its progress and the challenges faced. The various groups of maps are identified and described, together with the source maps on which they were based.

The ingenious methods of smuggling the maps into the camps, with other escape aids, in apparently innocuous leisure items are described. The maps were then copied and reproduced to support the escapes. Coded correspondence with the camps is discussed, and a successful deciphering of some of that correspondence is provided. The implications for the escape and evasion programme were considerable, but so too were the implications of the passage of intelligence from the camps to aid the war effort, a factor apparently largely overlooked.

• Historical Background and the Creation of MI9

• The map production programme and the compilation of a carto-bibliography

• Escape Aids and Communication with the Camps

• Coded Correspondence

• Airey Neave and the Schaffhausen Salient

• the Baltic ports and maps produced in the camps

  • ‘A story of amazing inspiration and ingenuity in a country at war’ – Antiques Diary
  • ‘A mammoth account of MI9’s activities’ – The Times
  • ‘Only now, thanks to the investigative work of Barbara Bond are we able to see something like the full story of the race to beat the Germans’ – Sue Baker, Love Reading