Original U.S. WWII 1943 Color Silk Escape Map with Pouch, Compass and Hacksaw 43/C 43/E

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. In 1943 a series of cloth escape maps were produced that are immediately recognized by their vivid colors.  These maps are of the European Theater and were issued to Allied pilots of the US, RAF, and RCAF.  Printed by the company of John Waddington, Ltd, the maps consist of eight colors and are primarily at a scale of 1:1,000,000 with larger scale inserts. There are ten sheets in this series, which are composites of various paper sheets of the then existing International Map of the World, unlike the previous escape maps which were exact copies of existing paper sheets.  The sheets are numbered with the prefix 43 followed by one of the upper case letters:  A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and K (east) and K (west).  When all the maps are laid out they basically overlap to provide a complete map of Europe.  The maps were usually printed on both sides, although single-side versions exist.  Normally, the maps were printed sequentially--A on one side and B on the other side; C on one side and D on the other side--although that was not always the case.  For example, maps with C on one side and E on the other side are also occasionally found.     

The 43 Map Series
An interesting feature of the maps is the black points on the map with corresponding distances between the points expressed in chilometers.  For example, the distance would be marked indicating the distance between two large towns.  This assisted the user in readily identifying distances without having to measure the distance with the scale legend printed elsewhere on the map.

This example is double sided and each side is as follows:
43/C  Holland Belgium France Germany
43/E  Germany Protectorate Slovakia Poland Hungry

Money Purses and Map Pouches
Allied aircrews operating in the European theater were issued silk maps packed in escape and evasion money purses.  The purses were constructed of a brownish rubberized fabric sealed in a clear waterproof covering that kept their contents dry.  The purses contained foreign currency of the countries over which the planes would be flying.  The money was intended to help downed crewmembers in obtaining local assistance while attempting to return to friendly lines.  Besides containing money and silk maps, each purse also contained a miniature brass compass and a small metal hacksaw blade.  The purses themselves were secured shut with adhesive and were only to be opened if needed.  As can be imagined, the purses were a closely accounted for item by all units because of the money they contained.  

Late in the war (after February 1945) map pouches were issued to Allied aircrews, often in lieu of purses.  The pouches were made from the same material as the purses and were roughly the same size, but were referred to in official records as map wallets.  The front of the map pouches were often printed with "MAPS ONLY."  Since the map pouches were distributed later in the war, they mostly contained the 43 series silk maps.   The front of the pouches often identified the maps contained in the pouches, such as "C/D" and "E/F."  Official records reveal that 7,500 "CDEF Map Wallets" were requested for issue to US Air Divisions.

The scale is 1: 1,000,000. The inset map is 1: 250,000, both with a kilometer and a mile scale. Longitude and latitude are numbered in a border around the map. On the main map, the front is labeled Sheet C, 43/C and depicts Holland, Belgium (Except West Coast), France (North East), and Germany (West & Central). The back is labeled Sheet D, 43/E and depicts Germany Protectorate Slovakia Poland Hungry. There are legends for the main and inset maps with an elevation scale in meters and feet, important roadway features, and former and present frontiers. The front has a legend in the top left corner and the back main and inset legends are along the bottom.

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