We are often asked 'How do you print the maps onto silk?' - We don't. These are genuine fabric maps, printed onto silk over 50 years ago.
Home Front Vintage rescues silk escape and evasion maps that pilots and Special Forces used during WW2 and the cold war. We re-make them into fabulous homewares including cushion covers, laptop and kindle covers and covered notebooks. We also make bespoke items to order and have a few undamaged maps that we sell ready for framing.
WW2 British silk escape maps were the creation of Clayton Hutton, an eccentric MI9 British Army Officer who was the genius behind so many WW2 escape and evasion aids which are still in use today.
Hutton came up with the idea after he persuaded the British Museum to collect in the region of fifty true WW1 escape stories from various second hand bookshops in Bloomsbury. He then had them delivered to the sixth form at Rugby School and asked the pupils to read the books and summarise the key elements. The one item that constantly stood out from the rest was an escape map.
Hutton approached Bartholomew's, a world famous map making company, and persuaded them to waive their copyright on maps for the war effort. Hutton had the maps printed onto pure silk; the ideal material for an escape map as silk is quiet, rustle free and easy to hide or sew inside clothing.
The maps were issued to the RAF and Special Forces throughout WW2 and beyond into the cold war period of the 1950s and even smuggled into prisoner of war camps; helping our troops find their way home.
All our escape and evasion items are made with genuine, issued maps; a real piece of history. Each item is unique depending on which part of the individual map we use.
Many of our maps are sourced from an ex-Royal Engineers soldier. He started his army career as a private and worked his way up through the ranks to become a commissioned officer. During the 1960s he was told to clear out the regimental stores and ‘get rid’ of boxes and boxes of escape maps. The maps dated from the 1940s to the mid 1950s – WW2 through to the start of the Cold War. The maps had been such a success during WW2 that the Military continued to print and issue them to aircrews flying in the period after 1945.
Being the resourceful chap that he was, the Engineer ‘got rid’ of the maps by storing them in his loft, where they stayed until 2013 when he contacted Home Front Vintage. Thanks to him, the story of the maps goes on; retelling our history and remembering the past - whilst looking to the future.