GP Cox is the owner of Pacific Paratrooper, a blog focusing on WWII in the Pacific. The blog is in honor of his father, Everett Smith who served in the Pacific theater of operations. GP has an extensive personal library on World War II. This includes some of the books of his via Pacific Paratrooper Book Library – YTD
This happened 76 years ago today, on April 30, 1943. Ian Fleming (of Jame’s Bond fame) helped with the deception….
May 8th is V-E Day. Victory in Europe Day when Nazi Germany formally surrendered to the Allies in 1945. Happy V-E Day to those that remember it or have learned about it.
I got this as part of a forwarded email so I can not vouch for it’s accuracy. It is a fascinating story of escape during World War II.
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, one showing not only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of ‘safe houses’ where a POW on-the-run could go for food and shelter.
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 MI5 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 of Leeds. 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 located. 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 POW 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 any other, future wars.
The story wasn’t declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington’s, as well as the firm itself, were finally honoured in a public ceremony.
It’s always nice when you can play that ‘Get Out of Jail’ Free’ card!
I realize some of you are (probably) too young to have any personal connection to WWII (Sept ’39 to Aug. ’45), but this is still interesting.
When Books Went to War: the Stories that Helped Us Win the War by Molly Manning is an excellent overview of the Armed Service Editions. She not only tells you what happened but also why it mattered. The public had donated hardback books to the troops but they needed something they could take with them easily–on a ship or airplane, in the barracks, or in foxhole or tank. Manning deals with issues ranging from cost, transportation limitations (books vs beans vs bullets), censorship (if the Nazis were restricting what people could read would the Council on Books in Wartime do the same), and the impact of the books on the soldiers and sailors as written by the readers themselves.
For more information about the book, where you can buy it, and the author, check out Molly Manning’s website. The website includes excerpts, reviews and a museum which includes pictures and captions from Nazi book burning, to advertisements for the Victory
Book Campaign, small sized magazines (of regular magazines like the New Yorker and Saturday Evening Post Yarn), and the Armed Service Editions.
l-picture of a Nazi book burning in Berlin on the Openplatz r-Display at Yad Vashern of books burned by the Nazis
l-Commemorative plaque of the book burning at Frankfort Hesse Germany r-American propaganda poster on why the Freedom to Read is important
After World War II, the military services began their own paperback book programs. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines provide paperback book kits to deployed soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen whether they are in the field, in a combat zone, on a ship, in the brig or correction facility, or assigned to embassy duty. The contents of the book kits have changed over the years.
The Army “Family and MWR Libraries also support deployed Soldiers in remote locations through monthly deliveries of paperback book kits and Playaways, small MP3 players containing an audio book. Kits contain about 25 paperback books or 24 Playaways specially selected to match the interests of Soldiers.”
The Navy “(s)upport for deployed forces includes compact, battery-powered audio books and monthly shipments of popular paperbacks to afloat and shore commands.
The Marine Corps Order 1700.33 was published 18 September 2015, spelling out what the Marine Corp General Library would support including: deployed garrison and remote locations and Marine Corps Embassy Security Group personnel at foreign missions and deployed and remotely stationed Marines and families throughout the world.
The Air Force Libraries “ship magazines, paperback books and DVDs monthly to deployed and remote units world-wide. We also provide support to exercises through the USAFE Library Service Center (LSC) at Ramstein AB, GE. runs small libraries at several downrange locations in conjunction with education services at Learning Resource Centers. Support to military missions, including Defense Attache Offices (DAOs), Offices of Defense Cooperation (ODCs), Military Liaison Teams (MLTs) in CENTAF is also handled by the USAFE LSC.”
The Army marches on it’s stomach. The Navy provides 3 hots and a cot. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the physiological needs of food and shelter are the most basic needs. Would reading be a safety, love-longing, esteem or self-actualization need? The level of need may depend upon the reader and his/her circumstances.
Many Americans had a visceral reaction to the Nazi book burnings beginning in 1933. By 1938, millions of books had been burned in Germany. Franklin Roosevelt famously said that “Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die.
According to Wikipedia, ” Armed Services Editions (ASEs) were small, compact, paperback books printed by the Council on Books in Wartime for distribution within the American military during World War II. This program was in effect from 1943 to 1946. The ASEs were designed to provide entertainment to soldiers serving overseas, while also educating them about political, historical, and military issues. The slogan of the Council on Books in Wartime was, “Books are weapons in the war of ideas.”
Historynet shares that before the Armed Service Editions were created, American citizens donated books to the troops. ALA’s Victory Book Campaign “to benefit the army and merchant marine—were wildly successful. Civilians contributed books of every genre, shape, and size; by January 1942, 25,000 books had been donated in New York City alone.”
But, as Lieutenant Colonel Ray L. Trautman, head of the Army Library Service, found, the efficient delivery of those volumes across the globe was another challenge entirely. … Trautman tried a “book kit” program, shipping crates of reference books, paperbacks, and hardbacks to camps overseas, but the same issues surfaced. Trautman was at a loss. He needed books that were light, uniformly sized, and portable—books that, ideally, would cater to every taste: mysteries, westerns, bestsellers. They didn’t exist; he would have to create them. But how?
According to the Library of Congress Blog from September 30, 2015, Books in Action: The Armed Service Editions by Erin Allen:
In 1942, U.S. Army librarian Ray Trautman and Army graphic arts specialist H. Stahley Thompson approached a publisher with their idea to distribute inexpensive paperback editions overseas. They enlisted support from the Council on Books in Wartime, a nonprofit coalition of trade publishers, booksellers and librarians who viewed books as “weapons in the war of ideas.” The council turned a good idea from the U.S. Army into an efficient cooperative enterprise that involved the Army, the Navy, the War Production Board and more than 70 publishing firms.
Designed to appeal to a wide variety of reading tastes, the Armed Services Editions included best sellers, classics, mysteries and poetry. A total of 1,324 titles were published in the series. The Library of Congress holds one of only a few complete sets that survive today.
Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) has a PDF of John Cole’s Books in Action, printed as part of the 40th anniversary of the ASE in 1983. The PDF includes an introduction by John Cole who wrote the original Books in Action, the “Armed Services Editions in Publishing History by Michael Hackenberg, “Recollections of an ASE Collector” by Matthew Bruccoli and other relevant essays.
Have you ever seen an Armed Services Edition? Have you ever read one of its titles without realizing that it might have been an ASE? Join in the conversation and share your stories about ASEs or their titles. Did you know that the military services have libraries and provide book kits to troops in war zones, on ships, Marines at embassies around the world?