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Published: 06 March 2021

By Andy Ross

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Article of the week - number fifty - a silk map

Silk is versatile, lightweight, immensely strong, able to withstand a wetting and it does not crinkle when unfolded. That is why it was chosen for escape maps during the Second World War.  

For pilots and prisoners of war these maps showed vital routes to freedom. They were printed with different areas and at different scales, and given to pilots, or sent to prisoners, ingeniously hidden inside games or containers. The maps were useful in other ways besides finding a way home. They were turned into clothing - silk was in short supply during the war!

Some maps were printed in black and white but they also came in full colour, as you can see here.  You can also read a little about their history on the same page.