Maps of this sort were issued to officers in advance of the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, as well as during many other military actions.
The CIA noted, “Printed on silk, which is durable, this map doesn’t rustle at night and can be folded up very compactly to be more easily concealed.” They also added that these maps were printed with waterproof dyes so the important details would not smear or fade if it got wet.
See four different silk paratrooper escape maps below — one of which included text to help an airman get help after a crash landing.
WW2 escape & evasion maps: France from the D-Day invasion (1944)
This specific piece of WWII memorabilia — belonged to my paratrooper grandfather, who was an Army Captain at the time. He was assigned as the Commanding Officer of Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Along the top of this vintage escape map, it says “Zones of France” and “Second Edition,” and also notes that the map is on a 1:2,000,000 scale.
WW2 D-Day escape and evasion map – 1944 Europe (on silk)
Vintage WW2 European Escape and Evasion map from the CIA
Central Intelligence Agency OSS Escape and Evasion Map – China and India (1944)
Along the right side of the map on this “AAF cloth chart” were requests for help written in several Asian languages.
It said: “I am an American airman. My plane is destroyed. I cannot speak your language. I am an enemy of the Japanese. Please give me food and take me to the nearest Allied military post. You will be rewarded.”