WWII

Collection Of 'Secret' World War Two Spy Gadgets Sold At Auction For Thousands

The collection is made up of “escape and evade” items sent to British soldiers trapped in France.

A collection of ‘secret’ gadgets sent to trapped British soldiers during the Second World War have sold at auction for £17,000.

The collection included a pair of dominoes concealing a map that sold for £800, whilst a camera hidden in a pocket watch made £2,200 in an online sale.

A string vest that could be turned into a rope sold for £100, whilst a smoking pipe containing a hidden dagger went for £520.

The items were collected more than 40 years ago by the late Arthur Muggerdige, who fought during the war.

He served with the Royal Artillery but was forced to leave the military after getting injured during the Dunkirk evacuations.

After the war, he built up a collection of the “escape and evade” items, which have now been sold by relatives.

Auctioneer Andrew Stowe said: “This was real espionage work – secret meetings, coded messages, real 'cloak-and-dagger' stuff.

"A big part of the MI9 operation was sending secret items to troops in occupied territories.

"Useful items like maps, compasses and even secret orders – anything to help them escape or evade capture.

"Very often these items were ‘normal’ items that were sent in aid packages to camps, and the way items were secreted was very often ingenious!”

The gadgets for sale were sent to soldiers behind enemy lines in occupied Europe (Picture: East Bristol Auctions).

Other objects in the auction included two taxidermy studies of carrier pigeons holding secret message capsules, as well as pens and pencils containing hidden daggers.

While everyday items, such as a button, matchbox, shaving brush and fountain pen hold hidden compasses.

“These items are very special,” said Mr Stowe.

“Can you imagine being trapped in the middle of France during the war, and the only tools you have to aid you getting home safely are a map on the back of a domino, and a compass from your razor blade?

"Terrifying. But it worked.”

The collection went under the hammer at East Bristol Auctions as part of their Military, History & Transport auction.

Cover image: Dominos that held a secret map (Picture: East Bristol Auctions).