Original U.S. WWII Eastern Asia Escape and Evasion “Silk” Map Lot Dated 1943 - 2 Items

Item Description

Original Items: Only One Lot of 2 Available. 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.

These two maps are dated 1943 and are printed on an artificial silk type material. The maps in this lot are both scaled 1:1,000,000 and for Eastern Asia. Map scale refers to the relationship (or ratio) between distance on a map and the corresponding distance on the ground. For example, on a 1:100000 scale map, such as these two, 1cm on the map equals 1km on the ground.

Map scale is often confused or interpreted incorrectly, perhaps because the smaller the map scale, the larger the reference number and vice versa. For example, a 1:100,000 scale map is considered a larger scale than a 1:250,000 scale map.

The Maps Included:


This side of the map shows mainly flight patterns for the Sea of Japan and a portion of the USSR coastline. The opposite side, which is also headed as AAF CLOTH CHART, is for the Ōtomari region. Showing mainly flight paths, this side also shows a coastline of the USSR and the Karafuto, Ōtomari and Hokkaido regions.

The map measures at: 23 ⅜” x 24 ⅜”

The second map is:


This map is very similar to the first example. This one shows portions of the Sea of Japan as well as the Pacific Ocean. In between the two are portions of Honshu, Hakodate and Hokkaido. The opposite side is for the Nemuro region and shows a large portion of the Pacific Ocean. The land masses shown are the Hokkaido-Cho and Chishima-Retto regions.

The map measures at: 22 ¾” x 24 ⅛”

Both maps are in excellent unused condition and come ready to display!

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 offices 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..."

Many of the maps of the Pacific region were printed by the US Army Map Service, while the UK was responsible for many of the European Theater maps.

Many of the US Navy charts were folded in envelopes and distributed to the air crews before a mission, and to be turned in when the mission was successfully completed. They were called "drift charts" by the Navy, "...since their prime purpose was to indicate to aircrews survivors in their life rafts in which direction the ocean currents and prevailing winds would cause their rafts to drift...".

The maps were quite effective. Some 35,000 Allied troops in all escaped from enemy territory during WW-II, and it is estimated that almost half of them used variations on these maps to help in their escape or evasion of capture.

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