Tuesday, July 19, 2011


These 'Feel Good' stories can be very touching, but are they true?  Not always.  The following was sent to me the other day, and I decided to check it with Snopes.  They say that in general the story is true, but some of the finer details may not be.  For instance, I deleted a line that said the maps showed location of 'safe houses'.  No, were NOT shown for fear a map would fall into the hands of the Germans.  By the same token, while this story gives an estimate of escapees who used the maps, the British say they have no idea how many the maps aided.

(You'll  never look at the game  the same way again!)
Starting  in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found  themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape.  Now  obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map.  Paper  maps had some real drawbacks -- they make a lot of noise when  you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get  wet, they turn into  mush. Someone  in MI-5 (similar to America 's OSS ) got the idea of printing  escape maps on silk. It's durable, can be scrunched-up into  tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no  noise whatsoever.  At  that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John Waddington, Ltd. When approached by the  government, the firm was only too happy to do its bit for the war effort.

By  pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for  the popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened,  'games and pastimes' was a category of item qualified for  insertion into 'CARE packages', dispatched by the  International Red Cross to prisoners of  war.  Under  the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and  inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a  group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing  escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where  Allied POW camps were in the regional system. When processed, these  maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would  actually fit inside a Monopoly playing  piece.

As  long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington's also managed to add:
1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass
2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together
3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!

British  and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set  -- by means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look  like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square.

Of  the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use this highly successful ruse in still another, future war. 
The  story wasn't declassified until 2007, when the surviving  craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm itself, were finally honored in a public  ceremony.  It's  always nice when you can play that 'Get Out of Jail' Free' card!

A dark horse is a candidate that the delegates don't know enough about to dislike yet.

Political science is to try to figure out what makes candidates act that way.

A split ticket is when you don't like any of them on the ticket so you tear it up.

When they talk about the most promising presidential candidate, they mean the one who can think of the most things to promise.

Elephants and donkeys never fought until politics came along.


  1. Wow. While laughing at the tokens: a cellphone? You want fries with that?

  2. I thought of Col. Klink "Veeeeeery interesting."