RAF Silk Escape Map, Sheet C, France and Germany

RAF Silk Escape Map, Sheet C, France and Germany

RAF Silk Escape Map, Sheet C, France & Germany

Here one of the RAF's silk escape maps, in this case sheet C, covering eastern France, western Germany, Belgium and Holland.

Donated by Mitchell Walters , son of Ian Walters.


Attempts to escape Oflag IV-C

Prisoners made numerous attempts to escape from Oflag IV-C, one of the most famous German Army prisoner-of-war camps for officers in World War II. Between 30 and 36 (German/Allied figures) men succeeded in their attempts. The camp was in Colditz Castle, perched on a cliff overlooking the town of Colditz in Saxony.

The German Army made Colditz a Sonderlager (high-security prison camp), the only one of its type within Germany. Field Marshal Hermann Göring even declared Colditz "escape-proof." Yet despite this audacious claim, there were multiple escapes by British, Canadian, French, Polish, Dutch, and Belgian inmates. Despite some misapprehensions to the contrary, Colditz Castle was not used as a prisoner of war camp in World War I.


Our shipping charges worldwide

Packing and Shipping of items under 2kg costs from £20 including insurance for loss (not damage) in transit. For packing and shipping of items over 2 kgm, please ask for a quotation before bidding.

Important Information

Lots purchased online with the-saleroom.com will attract an additional charge for this service in the sum of 4.95% of the hammer price plus VAT at the rate imposed

All payments MUST be completed no later than close of business on the Tuesday immediately following the auction.Our Client Services Department (Telephone 01928 579796) is open on the Monday and Tuesday after every sale when successful Absentee Bidders will be contacted by telephone or email to arrange payment and take instructions regarding shipping. When packing and shipping is required, this is undertaken on the two days after every sale and the goods will normally be despatched within 24 hours. Be aware that we have no access to Royal Mail services at the present time and shipping will therefore be carried out by UPS and other selected couriers of our choice. All payments MUST be completed no later than close of business on the Tuesday immediately following the auction.

Absentee Bidders

Payment by Absentee Bidders may be made by Gap payment request, by BACS or Electronic Transfer. Debit Cards and Credit Cards will only be accepted by clients who are present in The Auction Centre at the time of payment.

Please pay for your lots promptly as late payment will inevitably result in delayed delivery. Details of non-payers are shared with other auction houses and live internet bidding sites.

Our shipping charges within the UK

With the exception of small packages, all shipping is undertaken by UPS. We do not normally use other courier services. Be aware that we currently do not have access to Royal Mail services.

• Packing and Shipping of items under 2 kgm from £8 to £15 including insurance for loss (not damage) in transit.
• Packing and Shipping of items between 2 kgm to 10 kgm from £18 including insurance for loss (not damage) in transit.
• Packing and Shipping of items over 10 kgm from £22 including insurance for loss (not damage) in transit.

For Packing and Shipping of very large items (eg furniture, dinner services, quantities of general lots), we are usually able to recommend a specialist door-to-door courier service at reasonable cost. Please ask for a quotation before bidding.

If you prefer to employ your own courier, we provide a packing service with prices starting at £5 (not dinner services or general lots).

Our shipping charges worldwide

Please contact Client Services on +44 (0)1928 579796 for a quotation

Packing and Shipping of items under 2kg costs from £20.

For packing and shipping of items over 2 kgm, please contact Client Services on +44 (0)1928 579796 for a quotation before bidding.

All packages are delivered on a 'signed for' basis. Any insurance is provided by the courier or shipper and The Auction Centre accepts no liability for any loss or damage after the goods have been collected or delivered to the courier or shipper.

All prices are net of VAT

Terms & Conditions

Definitions: The Auction Centre, who act only as auctioneers and agents for the vendor are called “The Auctioneers”. The representative of The Auction Centre conducting the auction is called “The Auctioneer”. “Hammer Price” means the level of bidding reached at or in excess of any reserve when the Auctioneer brings down the hammer.

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At all times prior to the fall of the hammer lots and chattels remain the responsibility of the vendor, and thereafter the responsibility of the buyer, and the auctioneers will only be liable for negligence or error in the performance of their obligations. The insurance of lots and chattels is always the responsibility of the owner.

The auctioneers will execute bids on behalf of intending buyers unable to attend the sale at no charge. The auctioneers undertake to purchase lots as cheaply as is allowed by other bids and reserves. Bids must be submitted in writing at least half an hour before the sale commences and should be entered on the Absentee Bidding Form provided. Whilst every care is taken in carrying out instructions, the auctioneers cannot be held responsible for errors or omissions made in carrying out such bids.


The RAF’s victory in the Battle of Britain was indeed a turning-point in the Second World War, fatally weakening Germany’s airforce, dealing a psychological blow to Hitler and laying the groundwork for the Allies’ return to France on D-Day 4 years later.

But what if Britain had lost in 1940? Would Churchill have gone down fighting? Could Britain have struck a peace deal with Hitler? Dan Snow investigates…


Experts in german, british and American Militaria

Epic Militaria specialise in WW2 German, British and American Militaria, including WWII Uniforms, Equipment, Boots, Helmets, Caps, Badges and Insignia, including Military, Army Surplus and Outdoor products.

Epic Militaria is UK based, but we ship to the USA, Europe and Worldwide. All orders are dispatched within 24 hours. Delivery in the UK is by 1st Class Mail or next day

Courier, so you’ll get it quick! Here at Epic we take customer service very seriously, you can call us on our UK number 0800 772 3448, and we answer emails quickly.

Discover these interesting articles about World War Two re-enacting, feature re-enactment groups and to list upcoming events and shows.

Read about past shows and events we've attended, as well as the most up to date upcoming shows.


RAF Silk Escape Map, Sheet C, France and Germany - History

We offer a friendly in-house packing and posting service for all successful buyers in our online auctions. Unlike many of our contemporaries, we are happy to handle a wide range of items. Within a business day of the auction, invoices are automatically emailed to buyers, inclusive of a quote for packing and posting. We aim to make our service both simple and easy. We believe in providing a whole and complete service, and that includes post-sale service and assistance in getting those purchases direct to your door.

For items of particularly high value, or for those of a very fragile nature, we do offer a white glove 'door to door' service handled by specialist courier Chris Watson.

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The Third Reich items in this auction have been vetted by an independent specialist. As with all items we handle, we are satisfied of their originality. However, due to the increasing sophistication of forgeries in this field, we can offer no warranty and must stress the importance of potential buyers satisfying themselves as to the nature of such lots.

Terms & Conditions

GENERAL CONDITIONS OF SALE

In these terms of business:

Laidlaw Auctioneers & Valuers is referred to as ‘Laidlaw’.

The Laidlaw representative conducting the auction is referred to as the ‘auctioneer’.

2. Attribution and Condition of Lots

We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of any statement as to authorship, attribution, origin, date, age, provenance and condition of any lot, whether or not such a statement forms part of the description of any such lot.

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• the person who caused the damage or

• the person for whom they are acting.

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(a) If the forename(s) (or asterisks where not known) and surname of the artist are given, this indicates that in the opinion of Laidlaw the picture is a work by the named artist.

(b) If the initials of the forename(s) and the surname of the artist are given, this indicates that in the opinion of Laidlaw the picture is a work of the period of the named artist and may be wholly or in part his work.

(c) If the surname of the artist is given, this indicates that in the opinion of Laidlaw the picture is a work of the same school of the named artist, or by one of his followers, or in his style and of uncertain date.

(d) The term ‘Bears signature’ indicates that in the opinion of Laidlaw this is not the signature of the artist.

(e) All other terms are self-explanatory.

Every person on the LAIDLAW premises before, during or after a sale shall be deemed to be there at their own risk and shall have no claim against LAIDLAW in respect of any injury they may sustain or any accident which may occur.

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The successful bidder, whether bidding for himself or for a third party, is entirely responsible for paying for the lots they have bought in accordance with the Laidlaw terms of business.

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This scheme allows auctioneers to sell items without VAT on the hammer price. The buyer then pays an amount equivalent to VAT. This amount cannot be refunded and is not shown separately on the invoice.

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Otherwise, an invoice will be sent the day after the sale. Buyers must pay their invoice within 24 hours and let us know when they will be collecting their purchase. We reserve the right to request payment by bank transfer / direct wire.

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Live online auctions are held from time to time in conjunction with the-saleroom.com.

Full details are given at the time of the live sale. A charge of 5 per cent of the hammer price (plus VAT) is made for internet bidding.

13. Ownership of Purchases

Ownership of lot(s) purchased will not pass to the buyer until they have paid Laidlaw in full and Laidlaw has applied the payment to the lot.

Each lot is the buyer’s sole responsibility from the fall of the hammer and is sold with all faults and imperfections.

Laidlaw is not responsible for the correct description, genuineness or authenticity of any lot and makes no warranty whatsoever. The buyer is deemed to have inspected each lot and satisfied himself as to its condition.

If instructed, Laidlaw will execute bids and advise prospective buyers. This service is free.

Buyers who cannot come to a sale may leave their bid with our reception staff after viewing, or make their bid in advance by telephone, or email. Such bids are placed at the buyer’s own risk.

Bids must be made at least one hour before the sale starts, and we advise buyers to make bids within one hour of the close of the view day.

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• Contact telephone numbers

• The number of the lot they wish to buy

• Their maximum bid amount – excluding commission which will be added to the invoice afterwards.

Buyers must state what their maximum bid would be. We cannot accept an instruction to ‘buy’ or unlimited bids.

We will ensure that lots are bought as cheaply as possible depending on the bids made and other reserves. If identical bids are placed, the person who bid first will take precedence.

Requests for telephone bidding must be registered one hour prior to the close of the view day. We will not accept requests on sale days. Lines are booked on a first come first served basis and are only granted if the buyer is willing to open the bidding at £1000. Full name, address and telephone numbers will be required together with proof of identity and address. Bank and credit/debit card details are also necessary to secure the line.

Whilst every effort is made to execute absentee bidding, Laidlaw cannot be held responsible for any default or neglect in connection with this service. All such arrangements are made entirely at the prospective buyer’s risk.

18. Storage and Collection

Please note furniture, carpets, clocks and larger works of art lots will normally remain in the salerooms for fourteen working days following each sale, after which they will be removed to store and arrangements for collection must be made in advance.

Storage charges will be levied on all lots not collected within fourteen days of the sale. This will include a handling fee of £5 plus VAT per consignment as well as a storage charge of £5 plus VAT per lot per day. No goods may be collected until these charges have been paid.

Laidlaw’s offers an in-house postage and packing service. We reserve the right to charge appropriately for time and materials on top of actual postage costs. Items posted can not be insured for loss or damage, and Laidlaw’s accepts no liability for items lost or damaged in transit.

20. Droit de Suite Royalty Charges

A work of art by a living artist, or those who have died within the last 70 years, which costs more than the UK sterling equivalent of €1,000 will incur a royalty charge. We pass this payment onto the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS), and do not charge a handling fee. Buyers can calculate royalty charges on the DACS website. www.dacs.org.uk.

Items marked with the v symbol in the catalogue will potentially incur royalty payments.

We use the euro to UK sterling exchange rate which applies on the day of the sale. It is the buyer’s responsibility to check the relevant exchange rate.

The actual qualifying threshold is calculated by the Artist’s Resale Right Service Hub based on the European Central Bank reference rate published at 2.15pm on the day of the sale, and can be found on the DACS website.

The royalty charge for pictures which achieve a hammer price of more than the UK sterling equivalent of €1,000, but less that the UK sterling equivalent of €50,000 is four per cent. On works of art that achieve a hammer price of more than the UK sterling equivalent of €50,000 a sliding scale of royalty charges applies. For a complete list of the royalty charges and threshold levels please download further details from the DACS website.

The royalty charge is added to invoices, and must be paid before purchases are removed. VAT is not paid on royalty charges.

Important Notice Relating to Sporting and Natural History

Clients intending to import/export any item derived from natural history specimens into/from a non-European country should first check for any Import/Export and possession restrictions prior to bidding/selling.

Certain species * are also subject to CITES regulations when exporting/importing these items out the EU CITES regulations are given on www.ukcites.gov.uk. Or may be obtained from Animal Health, Wildlife Licensing and Registration Service, Zone 1/17, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol BS1 6EB. Those species that are covered by the US Endangered Species Act (USESA) or The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA): potential US bidders should check with USF&W (US Fish and Wildlife Services) for trade/possession restrictions in the US prior to bidding.

While every effort has been made to attribute the correct Latin name for each specimen, the auctioneers will not be held responsible for any errors that may occur concerning Latin nomenclature.

For Health and Safety reasons, large heads, full mounts, and any particularly heavy or awkward lots cannot be removed whilst the auction is in progress.


Buyer's Premium

From: To: Increment:
£0 £19 £2
£20 £49 £2
£50 £99 £5
£100 £299 £10
£300 £499 £20
£500 £999 £50
£1,000 £2,999 £100
£3,000 £4,999 £200
£5,000 £9,999 £500
£10,000+ £1,000

Sale Terms and Important Information

Important Notice to All Buyers

Some lots will require export or cities licences in order to leave the UK or the European Union. It is the buyer's responsibility to ensure that lots have the relevant licences before shipping them. Please contact the relevant department for further information.

Please also note that some countries such as the United States and Canada restrict or prohibit the purchase and import of objects of Iranian or Persian origin. It is the bidder's responsibility to satisfy themselves that the lot being purchased may be imported in the country of destination.

Buyers Premium: We charge 23% buyers premium + VAT. There is a minimum premium of £5.00. Lots purchased online with Invaluable & AuctionZip will attract an additional charge for this service in the sum of 5% of the hammer price + VAT.

Payment must be in cash, debit, credit card or bank transfer. We do not accept cheques. Credit cards are subject to a 3% surcharge. Title will not pass to the buyer until Chiswick Auctions Ltd has received all amounts due to them in cleared funds even if the lot has been released to the buyer.

Please note that in the event that you do not pay for the item we will have to notify Invaluable which may affect your ability in future to bid on other auctions via the site. We look forward to hearing from you.

You must collect, or let us know of your collection arrangements, by 6pm GMT on the Thursday following the sale, or storage charges of £5.00 per lot per day will be enforced as specified in our standard Terms and Conditions.

Buyers are responsible for satisfying themselves concerning the condition of the property. All Lots are sold as seen.

Please request condition reports prior to the auction date. All photographs will be updated on to three websites by Sunday evening prior to the sale. Additional photograph requests should be requested prior to the Sunday before the sale so that the website can be updated with them. We do try to assist you with condition reports, however, we cannot promise to reply to condition reports requested on the day of the sale. Please come in and view the items to satisfy your own judgement wherever possible.

1. Agent for the Seller: Unless otherwise agreed, Chiswick Auctions Ltd acts as agent for the seller. The contract for sale of the property is therefore made between the seller and the buyer.

2. Inspection: Prior to auction, prospective purchasers are very strongly advised to examine personally any property in which they are interested to satisfy themselves in relation to matters which may concern them.

3. Descriptions: Any representation in any catalogue or otherwise as to the origin, date, age, attribution, genuineness or estimated selling price of any lot is a statement of opinion only. Such statements do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Chiswick auctions in relation to the lot. Any prospective buyer should satisfy themselves prior to the sale as to the reliability of the catalogue description.

4. Condition: Chiswick Auctions Ltd does not provide condition reports and buyers are responsible for satisfying themselves concerning the condition of the property. All lots are sold as seen.

5. Contract of sale: The buyer shall be the bidder at the highest price at the fall of the hammer.

6. Dispute resolution: Any dispute shall be settled at the auctioneer's absolute discretion. Under no circumstances will a sale be cancelled after the fall of the hammer, except at the auctioneer's entire discretion.

7. Bidder as principal: A bidder is accepting personal liability to pay the purchase price including the buyer's premium and all applicable taxes and charges unless: Chiswick Auctions Ltd has explicitly agreed in writing with the bidder before the commencement of the sale that (A) the bidder is acting as agent on behalf of a third party acceptable to Chiswick Auctions Ltd and (B) Chiswick Auctions Ltd has further agreed that they will look only to that third party for payment.

8. Premium: The buyer shall pay Chiswick Auctions Ltd a premium on the hammer price of 22% plus VAT on that commission.

9. Reserve: Many Lots are offered subject to a reserve, which is the confidential minimum sale price. The reserve will never exceed the low estimate printed in the catalogue. Chiswick Auctions Ltd may open the bidding on any lot below the reserve by placing a bid on behalf of the seller, and may in their discretion continue to bid on behalf of the seller up to the reserve price, by bidding in response to other bidders or alternatively by placing consecutive bids.

10. Responsibility: Purchased lots shall be at the buyer's risk in all respects from the fall of the hammer, and neither Chiswick Auctions Ltd nor their agents shall be responsible for any loss or damage of any kind, whether caused by negligence or otherwise.

11. Payment: All purchased lots must be paid for on the day of the auction. Written bids ('Commission bids') must be paid for the day after the auction. Payment must be by cash, debit, credit card or bank transfer. We do not accept cheques. Credit cards are subject to a 3% surcharge. Title will not pass to the buyer until Chiswick Auctions Ltd has received all amounts due to them in cleared funds even if the Lot has been released to the buyer.

12. Attendance at auction: Chiswick Auctions Ltd has the right in their absolute discretion to refuse participation in any auction, to reject any bid, and to refuse admission to the premises.

13. Collection: Purchased lots can be collected from the auction room after the sale has ended or between 10am and 6pm on the day after the sale. Purchased lots not collected before 6pm on the day after the sale shall incur storage charges of £5.00 per lot, per day or part thereof. Chiswick Auctions Ltd shall be entitled to retain purchased lots sold until all sums due have been paid to Chiswick Auctions Ltd. If any purchased lot remains uncollected 21 days after the sale storage charges shall thereafter be £10 per day and Chiswick Auctions Ltd shall have the right to sell the purchased lot to recover payment of storage charges outstanding. Any balance proceeds of sale received after payment of all sums outstanding and due to Chiswick Auctions Ltd shall be held for the account of the purchaser.

14. Packing: Chiswick Auctions Ltd will use reasonable efforts to take care when handling packing and shipping lots purchased, but are not responsible for the errors or omissions of third parties who may be retained for these purposes.

15. Electrical Items: All electrical items are sold as seen and Chiswick Auctions Ltd offers no guarantee as to the working condition of such items.

(i) Commission Bids: Chiswick Auctions Ltd will use reasonable efforts to carry out Commission bids received by them prior to the sale for the convenience of clients who are not present at the auction in person .Execution of Commission bids is a free service provided to help clients and Chiswick Auctions Ltd does not accept liability for any failure to execute a Commission bid or for errors and omissions in connection with it. Commission bids shall be executed at the lowest possible price, subject to competing bids and reserves. Although Chiswick Auctions Ltd will endeavour to inform buyers by telephone, it is the buyer who is responsible for checking to see if he has been successful in purchasing something.

(ii) Telephone Bids: Chiswick Auctions Ltd will use reasonable efforts to contact prospective buyers who make arrangements prior to commencement of the sale to bid by telephone, but Chiswick Auctions Ltd does not accept liability for any failure or error or omission arising in connection with telephone bidding.

17. Proof of Identity: Bidders not previously known to Chiswick Auctions Ltd, will be required to provide:

a. Proof of identity in the form of a passport, photocard driving licence or national identity card (no other forms of ID are acceptable)

b. Proof of address. For proof of address, only official documents showing name and address will be accepted. Both landline and mobile telephone numbers must be provided.

18. Remedies for non-payment: If the buyer fails to make payment in full in cleared funds within the time required by clause 11 above, Chiswick Auctions Ltd shall be entitled to exercise any one or more of the following rights or remedies additional to such other rights or remedies available:

(i) to charge interest at 4% per annum above the base rate of Lloyds bank plc
(ii) to commence legal proceedings for the recovery of the total amount due together with interest, legal fees and costs
(iii) to cancel the sale
(iv) to resell the property on such terms by auction or otherwise entirely as Chiswick Auctions Ltd may shall think fit, the buyer to be liable for all costs including legal fees incurred in the sale and to remain liable for any shortfall arising upon sale
(v) to set off against any sums which Chiswick Auctions Ltd may owe the buyer the outstanding sums unpaid by the buyer
(vi) where the buyer owes sums to Chiswick Auctions Ltd in respect of different transactions, to apply any sum paid by the buyer entirely at the discretion of Chiswick auctions Ltd to discharge any sums owed
(vii) to refuse entry to the buyer at any future auction and/or reject any future bids by the buyer and/or seek a deposit from the buyer entirely in the discretion of Chiswick Auctions Ltd
(viii) to retain all property owned by the buyer in the possession of Chiswick Auctions Ltd as collateral for outstanding sums owed and to exercise all the rights and remedies of a person holding security over any such property , whether by way of pledge, security interest or in any other way, to the extent permitted by law
(ix) to take such other action as is permissible by law and in the discretion of Chiswick Auctions Ltd.

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16 of the best British TV period dramas set in World War 2

Last year marked the 75th anniversary of the Second World War ending.

To celebrate, we’ve picked out some of TV’s best period drama series set during the conflict.

World War II took place from September 1939 until September 1945 and all these dramas, listed here in alphabetical order, are set during that period.

The Cazalets

Based on Elizabeth Jane Howard’s novels The Light Years and Marking Time, BBC One’s six-part drama from 2001 is the moving story of a large privileged family in London and on their estate in Sussex between the years of 1937 and 1947.

The Cazalets stars Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Anna Chancellor (The Crown).

“With its escape into a plummy historical world, The Cazalets is the sort of family saga American audiences have loved since Upstairs, Downstairs. But what is best and most unusual about the series is how its escapist frivolity slowly turns darker with the approach of war.” – The New York Times

Close to the Enemy

Written and directed by the acclaimed Stephen Poliakoff, this seven-part mini-series was broadcast on BBC Two in 2016.

As World War II ends, Captain Callum Ferguson is assigned one final task for the Army: to ensure that a captured German scientist, Dieter, helps the British to develop the jet engine.

Jim Sturgess (Cloud Atlas) is joined by Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel), Charlotte Riley (Peaky Blinders), Alfred Molina (Feud), Lindsay Duncan (Rome) and Robert Glenister (Hustle).

“It’s bold, and beautiful, haunting, clever and original. The small-screen maestro’s latest has all his hallmarks: stunning locations, strange dialogue and, of course, jazz.” – The Guardian

Colditz

Telling the stories of a number of prisoners of war and their attempts to escape Colditz in Saxony, one of the most noted German Army prisoner-of-war camps in World War II, ITV’s two-part drama aired in 2005 and is written by The Crown creator Peter Morgan.

Homeland actor Damian Lewis and a young Tom Hardy (Dunkirk) are joined by Sophia Myles (Spooks) and Laurence Fox (Lewis).

“You had to keep your eye on Colditz or it threatened to get up and run off without you, but careful study was rewarded.” – The Guardian

The Diary of Anne Frank

BBC One’s five-part adaptation of Anne Frank’s famous wartime diaries aired in 2009.

Ellie Kendrick played Anne Frank, with Iain Glen (Downton Abbey) as Otto Frank, Tamsin Greig (Episodes) as Edith Frank and Felicity Jones (Star Wars) as Margot Frank.

“Deborah Moggach’s five-part adaptation … focuses not on the fear but on the practicalities and confusions Frank was presented with by her new hermit-like existence. Ellie Kendrick is brilliant in the title role.” – The Telegraph

The Diary of Anne Frank is available on DVD on Amazon.

Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond

This fictionalised four-part account of James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s military career, romances and espionage for the Royal Navy is set in 1938-1952 and was broadcast on Sky in 2014.

Dominic Cooper (Mamma Mia!) stars as Ian Fleming, with Lara Pulver (Sherlock) as love interest Ann O’Neill.

“What fuels Fleming are the riveting performances by Cooper and Pulver, who manage to take as much passion and pulp as possible and run with it. A miniseries that’s more intellectual in its approach than most Bond films needed two characters to take the words and escalate the drama. Cooper and Pulver are magnetic as they do just that.” – The Hollywood Reporter

Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond is available on DVD on Amazon.

Foyle’s War

Created by Midsomer Murders writer Anthony Horowitz, ITV’s long-running crime drama series ran for eight seasons between 2002 and 2015.

The first six seasons are set during World War II in Hastings, England.

Michael Kitchen (GoldenEye) stars as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle.

“…you can revel in the twists and turns of well-researched scripts – and acting that is entirely convincing.” – The Telegraph

The Halcyon

ITV’s short-lived 2017 drama series was set in a bustling and glamorous five star hotel at the centre of London society during the Second World War.

The ensemble cast includes Steven Mackintosh (Luther), Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense), Kara Tointon (Mr Selfridge), Alex Jennings (The Queen) and Matt Ryan (Arrow).

“It clearly ticks a lot of boxes on the Downton Abbey replacement checklist.” – Sunday Express

Home Fires

Inspired by Julie Summers’ book Jambusters, this much-loved drama series about the life of Women’s Institute members on the Home Front in rural Cheshire during World War II aired for two seasons from 2015-2016.

Downton Abbey star Samantha Bond plays WI leader Frances, alongside Frances Grey (Messiah), Rachel Hurd-Wood (Peter Pan) and Claire Rushbrook (My Mad Fat Diary).

“It’s beautifully played, and notable for how unglamorous everyone looks, in a way that you would seldom see in an American production.” – Variety

Island at War

Telling the story of the German occupation of the Channel Islands, Island at War focuses on three local families.

The six-part series was first shown on ITV in 2004.

James Wilby (Poldark) and Clare Holman (Inspector Morse) are joined by a number of pre-fame stars, including Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), Philip Glenister (Life on Mars) and Laurence Fox (Lewis).

“You can call Island at War a soap opera, as some British television critics have, but if that’s true this soap opera is a gripping, poetic one – about moral courage in many guises. You might also call it a drama of manners.” – New York Times

Land Girls

BBC One’s daytime drama ran for three seasons from 2009 to 2011 and followed the lives and loves of four girls in the Women’s Land Army.

The girls must balance their working lives at the run-down Pasture Farm and the opulent Hoxley Manor.

Summer Strallen, Christine Bottomley, Jo Woodcock and Becci Gemmell led the cast, alongside Nathaniel Parker (The Inspector Lynley Mysteries) and Mark Benton (Waterloo Road).

“It looks sumptuous, the acting is good, and there are some nice touches, as when Nancy and Joyce got the giggles after surviving the attack of the rogue German plane. Hysteria, I imagine, quite often took that form.” – The Independent

Monsignor Renard

Set in occupied France in 1940, ITV’s four-part drama aired in 2000 and tells the story of a French priest who is drawn into the Resistance movement when he returns to his hometown after 20 years away.

Inspector Morse star John Thaw plays the titular Monsignor Augustine Renard, alongside a young, pre-Lord of the Rings Dominic Monaghan.

“Is that John Thaw as a Frenchman? My god, yes it is. Wheeling his bicyclette over the brow of the hill, Monsignor Renard is coming to ville to save the buxom peasant girls from the Nazis. A cross between The Seventh Samurai and Rene from ‘Allo ‘Allo.” – The Guardian

My Mother and Other Strangers

Set in in a small village in Northern Ireland in 1943, BBC One’s five-part drama series from 2016 follows the Coyne family and their neighbours as they struggle to maintain a normal life after a US Army Air Force base is set up in the middle of their rural parish.

Hattie Morahan (The Bletchley Circle) and Owen McDonnell (Killing Eve) head up the Coyne family.

“It’s in the classic tradition of offering a child’s eye view of adult events, evoking a sense of wide-eyed wonder tinged with a gradual loss of innocence.” – Radio Times

My Mother and Other Strangers is available on DVD on Amazon.

P.O.W.

Written by Life on Mars co-creator Matthew Graham and inspired by true stories, ITV’s 2003 drama series sees Flight Sergeant James Caddon captured when his plane is shot down on a bombing raid in Germany, 1940. Upon his arrival at a P.O.W. camp, where he discovers that a daring escape is already being planned.

James D’Arcy (Broadchurch), Joe Absolom (EastEnders) and Patrick Baladi (The Office) lead the cast.

“There was suspense, laughter, joy, sadness, love and relief all in this. I recommend this to all war film fans.” – Amazon

Restless

Scottish author William Boyd adapted his own espionage novel as a two-part mini-series for BBC One in 2012.

The story sees a young woman discover that her mother has been living a double life – she is actually a spy for the British Secret Service who has been on the run for 30 years.

The all-star cast includes Hayley Atwell (Any Human Heart), Rufus Sewell (Victoria), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Michael Gambon (Harry Potter) and Charlotte Rampling (London Spy).

“A stellar cast, perfect pacing and a fresh take on the British spy genre make this great.” – The Hollywood Reporter

Tenko

A co-production between the BBC and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation between 1981 and 1984, Tenko followed the fictional experiences of British, Australian and Dutch women who were captured after the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1942 and held in a Japanese internment camp on an island between Singapore and Australia.

Amongst the large ensemble cast were Stephanie Cole (Open All Hours), Stephanie Beacham (Dynasty), Burt Kwouk (Pink Panther) and Louise Jameson (Doctor Who).

“The series is not depressing as you might expect, but you see how women of different personalities and backgrounds eventually become united through common hardship and experience.” – Amazon

World on Fire

Written by Peter Bowker (The A Word), the BBC’s epic 2019 drama series takes viewers across the first year of World War II, from ordinary life in Manchester to the beaches of Dunkirk.

Season 1 begins with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 and ends with the Battle of Britain in 1940.

The all-star cast includes Oscar-winner Helen Hunt (As Good As It Gets), Sharpe star Sean Bean, Lesley Manville (Mum, River) and Blake Harrison (A Very English Scandal), alongside Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women) and Julia Brown (The Last Kingdom).

“A striking, witty wartime drama that feels startlingly new … While this was an ideal, cosy Sunday night watch with beautiful costumes and a soundtrack of 1930s jazz standards, it was no paint-by-numbers, predictable re-telling of history. The writing was witty, the characters spoke like real people, and the tear-jerking moments weren’t where you expected.” – iNews


Dive deep in the water with George Ezra in his video, “Hold My Girl.”


Dunkirk

Dunkirk, and the evacuation associated with the troops trapped on Dunkirk, was called a “miracle” by Winston Churchill. As the Wehrmacht swept through western Europe in the spring of 1940, using Blitzkrieg, both the French and British armies could not stop the onslaught. For the people in western Europe, World War Two was about to start for real. The “Phoney War” was now over.

The advancing German Army trapped the British and French armies on the beaches around Dunkirk. 330,000 men were trapped here and they were a sitting target for the Germans. Admiral Ramsey, based in Dover, formulated Operation Dynamo to get off of the beaches as many men as was possible. The British troops, led by Lord John Gort, were professional soldiers from the British Expeditionary Force trained men that we could not afford to lose. From May 26th 1940, small ships transferred soldiers to larger ones which then brought them back to a port in southern Britain.

The beach at Dunkirk was on a shallow slope so no large boat could get near to the actual beaches where the men were. Therefore, smaller boats were needed to take on board men who would then be transferred to a larger boat based further off shore. 800 of these legendary “little ships” were used. It is thought that the smallest boat to make the journey across the Channel was the Tamzine – an 18 feet open topped fishing boat now on display at the Imperial War Museum, London.

Tamzine – one of the ‘little ships’

Despite attacks from German fighter and bomber planes, the Wehrmacht never launched a full-scale attack on the beaches of Dunkirk. Panzer tank crews awaited the order from Hitler but it never came. In his memoirs, Field Marshall Rundstadt, the German commander-in-chief in France during the 1940 campaign, called Hitler’s failure to order a full-scale attack on the troops on Dunkirk his first fatal mistake of the war. That 338,000 soldiers were evacuated from the beaches at Dunkirk would seem to uphold this view.

Their job done, the ‘little boats’ are towed up the Thames

One of the reasons put forward for Hitler not ordering an attack was that he believed that Britain had suffered from the might of the Wehrmacht once and that this experience would be sufficient for Britain to come to peace terms with Hitler. The total destruction of the British Expeditionary Force might have created such a climate of revenge in Britain that our involvement would be prolonged. That is one idea put forward for why Hitler did not order a full-scale attack on the beaches of Dunkirk – however, we will never know the true reason.


The Wartime Spies Who Used Knitting as an Espionage Tool

During World War I, a grandmother in Belgium knitted at her window, watching the passing trains. As one train chugged by, she made a bumpy stitch in the fabric with her two needles. Another passed, and she dropped a stitch from the fabric, making an intentional hole. Later, she would risk her life by handing the fabric to a soldier—a fellow spy in the Belgian resistance, working to defeat the occupying German force.

Whether women knitted codes into fabric or used stereotypes of knitting women as a cover, there’s a history between knitting and espionage. “Spies have been known to work code messages into knitting, embroidery, hooked rugs, etc,” according to the 1942 book A Guide to Codes and Signals. During wartime, where there were knitters, there were often spies a pair of eyes, watching between the click of two needles.

When knitters used knitting to encode messages, the message was a form of steganography, a way to hide a message physically (which includes, for example, hiding morse code somewhere on a postcard, or digitally disguising one image within another). If the message must be low-tech, knitting is great for this every knitted garment is made of different combinations of just two stitches: a knit stitch, which is smooth and looks like a “v”, and a purl stitch, which looks like a horizontal line or a little bump. By making a specific combination of knits and purls in a predetermined pattern, spies could pass on a custom piece of fabric and read the secret message, buried in the innocent warmth of a scarf or hat.

Women in Berlin knitting for soliders, 1914. Library of Congress/LC-DIG-ggbain-18341

Phyllis Latour Doyle, secret agent for Britain during World War II, spent the war years sneaking information to the British using knitting as a cover. She parachuted into occupied Normandy in 1944 and rode stashed bicycles to troops, chatting with German soldiers under the pretense of being helpful—then, she would return to her knitting kit, in which she hid a silk yarn ready to be filled with secret knotted messages, which she would translate using Morse Code equipment. “I always carried knitting because my codes were on a piece of silk—I had about 2000 I could use. When I used a code I would just pinprick it to indicate it had gone. I wrapped the piece of silk around a knitting needle and put it in a flat shoe lace which I used to tie my hair up,” she told New Zealand Army News in 2009.

A knitting pattern, to non-knitters, may look undecipherable, and not unlike a secret code to begin with. This could cause paranoia around what knitting patterns might mean. Lucy Adlington, in her book Stitches in Time, writes about one article that appeared in UK Pearson’s Magazine in October 1918, which reported that Germans were knitting whole sweaters to send messages—perhaps an exaggeration.

An American Red Cross knitting class during World War One. National Archives/20802186

“When the German authorities carefully unraveled such a sweater, the story went, they found the wool thread dotted with many knots. By marking a vertical door frame with the letters of the alphabet, spaced an inch apart, the knots could be deciphered as words by measuring the yarn along this alphabet and marking which letters the knots touched.” Adlington writes, adding that the magazine described this as “safer, and not apt to be detected.” As with many things spy-related, getting the proof and exact details on code knitting can be tricky much of the time, knitters used needles and yarn as a cover to spy on their enemies without attracting suspicion. Knitting hidden codes was less common.

The Pearson’s account of code knitting seems a bit convoluted, but the rumors were not pure fantasy. Because women were encouraged to knit socks, hats, and balaclavas for soldiers during many conflicts, including the American Civil War, and the World Wars, knitting and textile work was a common sight—and one that could be easily used to the spy’s advantage. In Writing Secret Codes and Sending Hidden Messages, Gyles Daubeney Brandreth and Peter Stevenson note that after Morse Code was invented, it was soon realized that string or yarn suit it well. And “an ordinary loop knot can make the equivalent of a dot and a knot in the figure-eight manner will give you the equivalent of a dash.”

Bed-ridden soldiers knit during World War One. National Archives/165-WW-265B(17)

The most famous example of knitting in code comes from fiction in A Tale of Two Cities, a bloodthirsty French woman named Madame Defarge knits coolly among the audience while the guillotine beheads French nobles, and zealously creates a series of stitches to encode names of nobles that will be executed next. “Despite involvement of Madame Defarge to take up knitting as a source of code, the use of knitting in espionage has nonfictional roots in the United Kingdom during the Great War,” writes Jacqueline Witkowski in the journal InVisible Culture. During the same time that the UK banned knitting patterns for fear of hidden messages, British Secret Intelligence agents hired spies in occupied areas who would pose as ordinary citizens doing ordinary things, which sometimes included knitting.

Madame Levengle was one such woman, who “would sit in front of her window knitting, while tapping signals with her heels to her children in the room below,” writes Kathryn Atwood in Women Heroes of World War I. Her kids, pretending to do schoolwork, wrote down the codes she tapped, all while a German marshal stayed in their home. The Alice Network, a collection of spies and allies in Europe who were experts in chemistry, radio, photography and more, employed “ordinary people who discovered unusual but extremely effective ways to collect information,” Atwood explains.

A World War One poster to promote knitting for soldiers. Library of Congress/LC-USZC2-670

In many cases, just being a knitter—even if you weren’t making coded fabric—was enough of a cover to gather information, and this tradition continued decades later during World War II. Again in Belgium, the resistance hired older women near train yards to add code into their knitting, to track the travel of enemy forces. “This enactment led to the Office of Censorship’s ban on posted knitting patterns in the Second World War, in case they contained coded messages,” Witkowski writes. Knitting used by the Belgian Resistance during World War II included dropping a stitch, which forms a hole, for one sort of passing train, and purling a stitch, which forms a bump in the fabric, for another, which helped the resistance track the logistics of their enemies. Elizabeth Bently, an American who spied for the Soviet Union during World War II and later became a US informant, used her knitting bag to sneak early plans for the B-29 bombs and information on aircraft creation.

Female spies during the American Revolutionary War also used the “old women are always knitting” stereotype to their advantage. Molly “Old Mom” Rinker, a spy for George Washington during the Revolutionary War, sat on a hilltop and pretended to knit while spying on the British, according to An Encyclopedia of American Women at War. She then hid scraps of paper with sensitive information in balls of yarn, which she tossed over a cliff to hidden soldiers right below, under the noses of the enemy.

Knitting, spying and secret messages so often go hand-in-hand that knitters around the world have figured out ways you, or the knitter in your life, can make your own secret knitting codes. Non-spying knitters make gloves and scarves from the Dewey Decimal system, Morse code, and binary programming language for computers, treating knits and purls like zeros and ones. The possibilities are so apparently endless, it might even be worth learning to knit to give it a try. Plus, if you do pass on knitted code, you’ll be joining a longstanding tradition of textile-making spies.


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