From an undisclosed originator to undisclosed recipients on the internet comes this photo demonstrating the ingenuity of people in wartime.
As the story goes, this pilot was stationed in France shortly after D-Day, June 6, 1944. He was sent to England to do something, and return to his squadron in France.
On his return flight he brought some “unofficial ordnance” under the wings of his Spitfire. Descending from altitude, his cargo was chilled to just the right temperature for a hot June afternoon.
Needless to say, his aircraft received the best service ever from his grateful ground crew. Surely he found a better way to conduct war: beer kegs where bombs would normally be.
Someone said democracies don’t go to war with one another, so there is hope and a powerful reason why we need to encourage democracies everywhere.
Even more ingenious was British MI-5 wanting to assist the number of Allied airmen who’d become involuntary guests of Hitler and his minions. Prisoner packages began to include Monopoly games since ‘games and pastimes’ was an approved item allowed in prisoner-of-war packages distributed by the Red Cross.
The playing tokens began to contain a tiny magnetic compass, a two-part metal file which could be screwed together, useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian and French currency was hidden within the piles of Monopoly money, and the most important item, maps, printed on silk which could be folded so tiny they’d fit in a monopoly piece. The special games were identified by a tiny red dot, cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch in the corner of the Free Parking square.
Printing on silk was not easy, but was perfected by English company John Waddington Ltd. as war began: a fact, along with this story, not de-classified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen of Waddington’s, who had been sworn to secrecy along with the PoWs, were honoured for their contribution to the war effort.
Of the estimated 35,000 Allied prisoners of war who successfully escaped, approximately one-third were “Monopoly players” who played the game for keeps.
The ingenuity of people cannot be squashed by war, although surely we can find a much better use for ingenuity than subjecting it to war.
From the charter of the peoples of the United Nations come these words: “Determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to affirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”
We live in hope during today’s gathering storm that the United Nations will one day have teeth.
Lest we forget D-Day: June 6,1944!