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Great escapes: the story of MI9’s secret maps

August 30, 2018 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm


How did a prisoner of war make their escape through Occupied territory?

In 1939, MI9, a newly-established intelligence branch of the War Office, was charged with organising the escape and evasion of British military personnel. Maps were identified as the basic need for any successful escaper and so began a huge map production programme, mostly printed on silk or rayon.

Dr Barbara Bond will draw on The National Archives’ collection of WWII escape and evasion maps previously held by the Ministry of Defence, revealing the methods used to get maps to prisoners, the human stories behind these maps and the significance of this collection on historical military mapping.

Barbara Bond spent her career as a cartographic researcher in the Ministry of Defence. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, past-President of the British Cartographic Society and was inducted into the United States National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s Hall of Fame in 2017. She is a long time user of The National Archives records and a Friend of The National Archives, and author of Great Escapes (2015).

This talk is part of the Summer Lecture Series exploring the theme ‘Mapping and movement: people, place and power’, which is generously sponsored by the Friends of The National Archives and supported by the Royal Historical Society.

18:15 – 18:30 Arrival (the coffee bar and bookshop will be open)
18:30 – 19:15 Lecture
19:15 – 19:30 Q&A
19:30 – 20:30 Document display and networking, with speaker’s book signing for Great Escapes
20:30 Close

The Summer Lecture Series is a programme of five lectures taking place across July and August exploring the theme ‘Mapping movement: people, place and power’. Each of the talks draws upon The National Archives’ rich collections and provides an opportunity to see the documents behind the research.


August 30, 2018
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm


The National Archives
Ruskin Avenue
Kew, TW9 4DU
020 8876 3444