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Monopoly - Did you know this!

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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






, one showing not only where stuff was, but also showing the


locations of 'safe houses' where an escaped POW 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 an ideal material as it is durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise





At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk. The firm 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's was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular



American board game, Monopoly. It was also a fact that '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 the Waddington's factory, a group of 'sworn-to-secrecy' employees began mass-producing escape maps, designed specifically for each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were situated.



When processed, these maps could be folded into such a minute size that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.



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, which was 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 considered that they might want to use this highly successful ruse in any possible future war.



The story remained a secret until it was declassified in 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm itself, were finally honoured in a public ceremony.



It's amazing to think that so many played that 'Get Out of Jail' Free' card for real!



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Maps were also placed inside 'records' sandwiched in between two layers, the really clever thing was that they could be played normally...you just had to break them to get the maps out


Many of the really clever things have still been kept quiet to this day...Much of the stuff that went on in Colditz is still protected by the Official Secrets Act and is taught in special courses...just in case people may need to use these skills again


My favourite was 'ghost prisoners'...lets say 2 prisoners were hidden in the roof...eventually their numbers are crossed off the roll...then 2 prisoners really escape...the 2 'ghost prisoners' re-join the ranks and all the numbers still add up! "All present and correct Sir!" ha ha ha...gave the escapees a good head start!



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