WAR OFFICE. Beyrouth-Damas … First Edition [one verso] Al Jauf … Fifth Edition. [London], Geographical Section, General Staff, 1951.
Two maps on either side of one sheet of rayon (artificial sik) cloth (measuring 60 x 76 cm); previously folded; small areas of discolouration in blank margins, otherwise very clean and fresh.
These rare and restricted military maps or escape maps have been printed to very high standards, with extremely fine lines and precise details. One map covers Lebanon, parts of Syria and Israel, whereas the other one is of part of Jordan (Amman in the upper left-hand corner) and Saudi Arabia. Christopher Hutton (1893–1965) was the sole man behind all escape equipment developed and issued by MI9 during the Second World War. The inventor, journalist and airman had been fascinated since his teenage years by Houdini. Escape maps were printed on silk so as not to take up space; light to carry and silent when unfolded. The authorities were sceptical about the production of maps during the war, but Christopher William Clayton Hutton got into contact with the Edinburgh map makers Bartholomew and Son. One of Hutton's acquaintances was a silk manufacturer from Macclesfield and the only obstacle remaining was the bleeding of the ink into the fabric, a problem Hutton solved by adding pectin to the ink.