Friday, December 07, 2012

Silk Escape Maps of WW2

A double-sided silk escape map of WW2
Photographs taken courtesy of: 
Cumbria County Archives & Local History Service 
(Whitehaven Records Office)

For additional information click on 'Comments' below. 


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Silk escape maps of WW2

Among the items from the Second World War in the Cumbria County Archives (Whitehaven Records Office) is a double-sided silk escape map. It originally belonged to a former agent of the 'PAT' escape line, Mlle. Maud Olga Andree Baudot de Rouville, whose 'nom de guerre' was "Thérèse Martin".

At one time it was thought this may have been a ladies silk headscarf with a map printed on each side. However, the item has a rectangular shape while a headscarf would normally have a square shape, although there are wartime reports where similar items were used by other women as a headscarf. In fact, the item is one of the earliest series of silk escape maps produced by Bartholomew of Edinburgh on behalf of M.I.9. They were issued to aircrew of the RAF as part of an 'escape kit' in case they were shot down or forced to land while on a mission to Occupied Europe. It is likely this one was given to "Thérèse" by one of the airmen she was helping to evade capture during the war.

On one side of this cloth is a map of Germany and eastern Europe showing the international frontiers as they were in 1941. It has the sheet identity number 9.U. The second side of the silk cloth has a detailed map of France and parts of adjacent countries. This map also indicates the international boundary lines as they were in 1941, as well as the demarcation line between 'Occupied' and 'Unoccupied' France, the German coastal defence area, roads, railways and canals. All of this would have been invaluable information for an Allied airman on the run in Occupied Europe and attempting to return to his unit. The identity number of this map is 9.C. (a).

To prevent the cloth from unravelling, the silk cloth has a machine hemmed edge, which is on the side having the map of France. Later in the war, the maps were heat treated to prevent the ravelling. Other escape maps were manufactured covering other parts of the world where Allied airmen were engaged on flying missions.

They were believed to be one of the most useful items in an airman's escape kit. Given that this particular map was retained by an escape line agent, it may well indicate they were useful to those engaged in resistance work helping Allied servicemen to evade capture and eventually return to Britain and continue the fight..

Further reading

This silk escape map has previously been studied as part of a WW2 project about Mlle Baudot de Rouville by a school student from Millom, Cumbria. To read this article click on the following link:
Researching WW2 Mlle Baudot de Rouville

For further information about WW2 escape maps click on the following link:
History of WW2 British Cloth Escape Maps


Cumbria County Archives & Local History Centre
(Whitehaven Records Office)

Friday, 07 December, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Whitehaven Archive & Local Studies Centre

As referred to above, the escape maps are part of a collection held by the Cumbria County Archives & Local History Service at Whitehaven. For information about this Local Studies Centre, including contact details, click on the following link:

Cumbria (Whitehaven) Archive and Local Studies Centre

Saturday, 08 December, 2012  

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