WW2 British RAF SOE Escape & Evade Early Issue Compass 15mm Diameter

WW2 British RAF SOE Escape & Evade Early Issue Compass 15mm Diameter

Code: 12474


For sale is a WW2 British RAF SOE Escape & Evade Early Issue Late 1930s Working Compass which measures 15mm in Diameter. 


Escape compasses were issued to allied pilots, paratroopers, commandos, the regular army and SOE agents as part of escape and evasion kits. For collectors, these compasses are a very exciting subject because of their secret nature.


This type of escape compass was made by the British before the war, and issued into the first years of the war. Its aluminium body – 0.622″ (15,8 mm) across x 0.287″ (7,3 mm) high – and its more elaborate construction compared to later models confirm this. Aluminium was not used on war time manufactured escape compasses. Instead, brass bodies were the norm, on American, Britsh and foreign models alike. As the war wore on, aluminium had to be saved for aircraft production. For all countries’ we can see aluminium being replaced by iron, steel and brass in all kinds of equipment, such as buckles, canteens and mess tins. The construction can be considered more elaborate, and thus more costly to manufacture, because of several points.


Firstly, the dome-shaped lenses on both sides. On initial inspection, there seems to be no good reason for being able to view and read the compass from both sides.


Secondly, the compass rose. It has eight compass directions painted on a cardboard circle, with the four main directions marked in red. These directions can also be read from both sides. In fact, there are two cardboard circles glued together, back to back. They weren’t glued together with the directions aligned on both sides. If you flip the compass over, the arrow doesn’t point to the same direction.


As for the arrow, it is actually arrow-shaped (instead of most types) and stamped out of blued sheet steel. It is suspended on a pin between both glass lenses. Furthermore the rim of the brass casing, On one side, it protrudes where it is crimped to one of the glass covers. 


The compass is in good working order, unfortunately both glass magnified lenses are rather scratched due to wear! This will be sent via Royal Mail 1st class signed for and dispatched within two working days.