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You'll never look at Monoply the same way again

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A friend (Dr Iain Clayre PEng) sent us this post which had been sent to him. It's a classic espionage story from World War II. Iain also sent a link to Snopes, which offers a few corrections. We've included them.

Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves 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 accurate map. . .

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.

Silk is the answer. It's durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise whatsoever.

At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain which had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John Waddington, Ltd. Waddington's had perfected this process to such an extent that virtually all British flyers climbed into their warplanes with a Waddington's map secreted in the heel of a boot.

By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the United Kingdom Licensee for the popular American board game Monopoly. As it happened, 'games and pastimes' was a category of item qualified for insertion into care packages for prisoners of war.

Under the strictest concealment, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were located. When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny packets they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece or in shallow recesses under the Monoply board's paper face.

As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington's 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.

The Monopoly games were sent to Nazi prison camps. 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, one cleverly made 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 unknown number were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets.

It's always nice when you can play that 'Get Out of Jail' Free card.


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