This morning I have unearthed a note that during WW2 the Women's Institute organised collections of cotton reels.

As yet, I have no understanding of why.

@dantheclamman I can’t find any other references to it. There are references to people turning them into children’s toys, but I can’t see that as a motivation for a WI campaign.

@UnconventionalEmma fascinating!

In 1941 Brownies collected 15,000 empty cotton reels ‘for a secret RAF job’. Recently de-classified files show that the cotton-reels were for ‘MI9’, the War Office department set up to help prisoners-of-war escape. Tightly-rolled silk maps of Europe, microfilm of contacts, and paper German money were carefully inserted inside the reels, which were then sent by MI9 in parcels of games and equipment to PoWs.

@Andrea Hubby has this, which is a modern recreation of a map pencil - a map hidden inside a working pencil, given to WW2 pilots in case they were shot down in enemy territory.

The pencil factory recently found the plans, but they had to figure out how to make them all over again, because those records didn’t survive.

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