Original U.S. WWII Airborne "Zones of France" D-Day Silk Map - Dated March 1944 - WEA Western European Area - 22 ½” x 24”

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a rare hard to find March 1944 dated "Zones of France", Scale 1:2.000.000, silk map. On D-Day, this map was mainly worn by US airborne troops around their neck.

In February 1944, in preparation for D-Day, the Intelligence School No. 9 (IS9) responsible for Western European Area (WEA) produced a second edition of the rayon map of France, printed in colors on one side, 1:2.000.000 scale (1 cm for 20 km). This map, called Zones of France in reference to the division of France after the Armistice, is mainly issued to SOE agents, Jedburgh teams, Operation Groups of the OSS and American and British paratroopers involved behind enemy lines during the liberation of the territory.

As you can see from the pictures, this map was definitely somewhat worn in service, either around the neck as intended or elsewhere. The edges are fraying slightly in spots but the adhesive border is still present to prevent further fraying. All colors are still vivid and the text on the map is still discernible. The reverse of the map has some adhesive residue present, more than likely from being mounted and framed at some point.

A wonderful example of a crucial tool as used by Allied Paratroopers and Pilots during the D-Day Invasions. Comes ready to display!

Escape and Evasion Maps
Evasion charts or escape maps are maps made for service members, and intended to be used when caught behind enemy lines to assist in performing escape and evasion. Such documents were secreted to prisoners of war by various means to aid in escape attempts.

During World War II, these clandestine maps were used by many American, British, and allied servicemen to escape from behind enemy lines. Special material was used for this purpose, due to the need for a material that would be hardier than paper, and would not tear or dissolve in water.

Evasion charts produced for the US, UK, and NATO were printed on vinyl sheets in the 1960s. Modern evasion charts are made of Tyvek 'paper', which permit printing of minute detail while remaining waterproof and tear-resistant.

World Wars Usage
During World War I Australians produced an escape map for use in July 1918 by prisoners in the German Holzminden POW Camp, sections of map were sewn into the clothing of prisoners who escaped via a tunnel to Allied territory."

Some American intelligence officers visited the UK in 1942 to be briefed on the British efforts in "escape and evasion" techniques and equipment. The British MI9 gave the Americans a book or manual, called, "Per Ardua Libertas", to take back to the US. Published in this manual were examples of each cloth escape and tissue escape map that the British had produced. "After this meeting with the British, the United States began to produce its own escape maps." Most of the American maps supplied by the Army Map Service from World War II were actually printed on rayon acetate materials, and not silk. However, because of the silky texture of the materials, they were referred to by the more familiar textile name.

"During WWII hundreds of thousands of maps were produced by the British on thin cloth and tissue paper. The idea was that a serviceman captured or shot down behind enemy lines should have a map to help him find his way to safety if he escaped or, better still, evade capture in the first place." Many of these maps were also used in clandestine wartime activities.

The cloth maps were sometimes hidden in special editions of the Monopoly board game sets sent to the prisoners of war camps. The marked game sets also included foreign currency (French and German, for example), compasses and other items needed for escaping Allied prisoners of war. Escape maps were also printed on playing cards distributed to Prisoners of War which could be soaked and peeled apart revealing the escape map. Other maps were hidden inside spools of cotton thread in sewing kits. "Due to the inherent strength and extremely compact nature of the MI9 mulberry leaf tissue maps, they could be wound into twine and then rolled into the core of cotton reels..."

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