Escape Kit

Escape Kit – Issued for landings at Pachino, Sicily

An escape kit consisting of a small “button” compass, a file enclosed in rubber, maps printed on silk to be worn as a scarf or secreted inside the uniform and a small sum of Italian Lire and French Francs. This kit was issued to certain select personnel on board the HMS Derbyshire en route to the landing in Sicily. The items were to be placed inside the soldier’s uniform by opening up seams, placing the items inside, and sewing the seams shut. The silk map showed the routes from through the length of Italy to Switzerland, a neutral country. The map on one side was southern Italy and on the other northern Italy.

During World War Two, Department 9 of the British Directorate of Military Intelligence (M.I.9 – Escaped British Prisoners of War/POW, Debriefing, Escape and Evasion) developed a great number of secret means to conceal tools and instruments in harmless looking objects for everyday use. The means the pilots carried with them during the air raid were called pre-capture. These comprised many items like uniforms or shoes, that could easily be converted in civilian plain clothes but also see saws, food, etc. This department also sent to the POW’s in the Offizierslager, short Offlagpost-capture).  About one in 5 parcel contained such materiel concealed in tooth-brushes, pencils, playing cards, etc. The “empty” ones were called dove and the “hot” ones naughty.

Associated place
Associated event
Associated name(s)
1939 – 1945 (WW 2)
Location of artifact
Case 24/25 WWII


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