Original U.S. WWII Hamilton Aero Covert Uniform Button Escape Compass

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Escape compasses were issued to allied pilots, paratroopers, commandos, the regular army and covert agents as part of escape and evasion kits. For collectors, these compasses are a very exciting subject because of their secret nature. Many myths exist about their issue and use. There is some conjecture as to the actual number of captured airmen and paratroopers who were able to flee from German stalags with the aid of these rudimentary Magnetic North Seeking escape compasses. It is also doubtful that their German captors were not aware of such devices. In fact, the odds of making a ‘home run’ out of Germany were very slim. Out of 10,000 RAF prisoners, only 30 succeeded in reaching home.

Most escape compasses were very small and of rudimentary design. Unlike other military compasses, most of the devices lacked numerical scales graduated in degrees for determining azimuth. They were also of questionable accuracy. The escapee would have had to rely on other means for determining direction. For example, Polaris, the North Star, could be used for determining geographical North, however, it could be utilized only at night under a clear sky.

Most known escape compasses are of British design and manufacture. The British made many different types of escape compasses. The reason for having really different models, was to better be able to conceal them in different circumstances. However, a few American examples are known to exist and this is one of those exceptionally rare examples.

This is a brass button from a WW2 U.S. Uniform. The button was made by the Waterbury Button Company. The top of the button has a small hinge on the reverse side allowing it to open like a clam shell. Inside is a tiny Hamilton Aero escape compass complete with direction scales in full working condition. Overall condition of the button is excellent as is the compass. This is the nicest version we've ever encountered.
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