Second World War British / Commonwealth Forces Escape and Evasion Compass, Royal Air Force blouse buckle form. Rare.
Condition: Fair Condition.
During World War Two, the Department 9 of the British Directorate of Military Intelligence (M.I.9 - Escaped British Prisoners of War/POW, Debriefing, Escape and Evasion) developed a great number of secret means to conceal tools and instruments in harmless looking objects for everyday use. The means the pilots carried with them during the air raid were called pre-capture. These comprised many items like uniforms or shoes, that could easily be converted in civilian plain clothes but also see saws, food, etc. This department also sent to the POW's in the Offizierslager, short Offlagpost-capture). About one in 5 parcel contained such materiel concealed in tooth-brushes, pencils, playing cards, etc. The "empty" ones were called dove and the "hot" ones naughty. The mastermind behind the invention and production planning of these gadgets wrote his story in Official Secret, Clayton Hutton, 1961.
Early RAF uniform blouses used a toothed buckle for securing the belt section on the bottom of the blouse. This arrangement met with disfavor because of the tendency of the buckle to catch on things and to be torn off. The buckle eventually was replaced by ordinary buttons. The buckle was made of a non-ferrous metal. The compass element was an arrow shaped piece of magnetized material concealed on the back portion of the buckle. The compass pivot was staked on a small swivel joint and when not in use was folded flat against a cross bar. The compass portion was stored on the opposite side of the same cross bar. A slider mounted on the same cross bar retains both the pivot pin and the compass needle assembly. To use as a compass, the slider is moved to release the compass element and the pivots swung to a vertical position. The buckle is placed on a stable horizontal surface and the compass needle assembly placed on the pivot. The pointed end of the compass points toward the North Magnetic pole