Most of the inventions in book were creation of Christopher Hutton, an employee at MI9 government agency. The other gadgets listed in the book were cigar boxes with in built radio and silk maps. These manuals were printed and distributed to US intelligence officers as they were far behind British intelligence in espionage design.
London printing company’s dummy version guide with 76 pages is now on auction for its buyers.
A rare book of World War II has been discovered recently that documents the smart equipment by British intelligence system to let war prisoners get out of them.
This 1942 classified document lists out the secret intelligence designs for the James Bond style equipment that includes coat buttons and gold teeth that hide tiny compasses inside them.
Most of these were brainchild of Hutton, who worked on the M19 government agency. Some of these instruction documents (less than 100) were distributed among US intelligence to let them reach the heights of British intelligence in espionage design. The dummy 76 page book retained by a London printing company explains what the gadgets were and how they were built and hidden in normal domestic equipment.
These gadgets were sometimes placed in food parcels and mailed to British PoWs in camps like Colditz. Some interesting gadgets include silk maps of Germany so they can be folded and hidden inside pencils, cigars, pipes or vinyl records. Another smart idea was the hidden maps under the 54 playing cards that form a large map of Germany and Europe when pieced together. Dartboards hide small hacksaws while a cigarette lighter carries a tiny camera inside it and cigar boxes were equipped with small radio.
The rare book ‘Per Ardua Libertas’ meaning liberty through adversity has been discovered but this was a dummy version owned by the London printing company. Devon inherited this book from one of the company executives has now set it to auction for sale.
The playing cards page in the book explains that each pack has one map with 48 cards making the whole map. The Europe map is on 4 Aces of the pack and the joker forms the key. The instructions are on the outside card.
The instructions on the gold tooth reads that the gold tooth fitting made to measure inserts a small compass on left side jaws and map slides or message inserted in thin gold tube are placed at the bottom on the two prongs. These are hidden between the gum and cheek.
These days, even CCTV security systems are built in small models to accommodate them in tiny domestic items. Such cameras are being used by journalists in countries like India to catch criminals’ red-handedly.
Auction specialist, Lionel Willis, Bonhams said it was really a rare fantastic book. He added that the M19 department started in 1939 was to help prisoners to escape. So the two key elements to escape in a foreign country were a compass and a map. They build maps on small silk pieces to roll and hide in small domestic items such as pencils and lighters.
Every sixth parcel of the rations packs and food parcels sent to prisoners contained these hidden gadgets that helped them to escape from the prison.
These smart gadgets are credited with helping 316 people to escape from their prison. The book is being sold by Bonhams next January with a pre-sale estimate of £800.