British researcher and author Phil Froom recently told me about his new book, Evasion and Escape Devices Produced by MI9, MIS-X, and SOE in World War II.
The book concerns the profusion of covert E & E devices produced during WW II by the British intelligence agency M.I.9 (Military Intelligence–Section 9, the parent organization of I.S.9, or Intelligence School 9), its mirror U.S. agency MIS-X (Military Intelligence Service–X), and SOE (British Special Operations Executive).
These organizations were responsible for the invention, production, and distribution of a huge variety of these ingenious devices issued to Allied air crew and Special Forces, which would enable them to evade capture after being forced down, or cut off behind enemy lines in occupied Europe.
Published by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd, the book was released in the UK in January of this year.
Phil writes, “The book concentrates not specifically on MI9 or MIS-X—although their histories are well covered—but on the innovative and rare devices themselves.
“These items were widely issued to air crews (British, Commonwealth, U.S. and Allied), to Special Forces, and also to many members of SOE, SIS and other covert agencies. So the subject matter also fits very nicely into the increasingly popular ‘secret agent/007’ genre, adding further interest to the book.
“The escape items featured include pens, pencils, razors, shaving brushes, tooth brushes, combs, cigarette lighters, books, mirrors, games, sporting goods, dart boards, and numerous other everyday items—all constructed with escape devices concealed inside, for recovery when required.”
Two spreads from this lavishly-illustrated book show tiny compasses hidden in collar studs and buttons, and items such as compasses, maps, counterfeit German civilian ID papers, and escape maps hidden in chess and draughts (checkers) pieces and boards.
The following description of the book is from a press release from Schiffer Publishing, Ltd:
Evasion and Escape Devices Produced by MI9, MIS-X, and SOE in World War II
Phil Froom, author
“This book describes the design, manufacture, covert shipment and use of the many ingenious evasion and escape devices provided to Allied troops during WWII. Following the fall of mainland Europe, hostile Allied actions against land-based Axis forces were generally limited to air attacks. However, as the numbers of those attacks increased, the number of aircraft and crews failing to return grew alarmingly: something needed to be done to provide these air crews with aids to enable them to evade to safe territory or escape captivity, or losses of irreplaceable crews would become critical. Britain’s MI-9 and U.S. MIS-X organizations were formed solely to support evaders and prisoners of war in occupied territories. They developed a wide variety of evasion and escape devices that were given to Allied Forces prior to operations in hostile territory or delivered clandestinely to POWs. It worked: the aids facilitated the return of thousands of men to their units.
“Phil Froom served nine years in the British Army working globally in Signals Intelligence, before taking up a role in the defence industry. A medal and militaria collector and military historian, Phil lives in England, is married, and has two children.”
Oversize (8.5 x 11 inches)
650 color and over 50 period illustrations
Hardcover, 320 pages