Pictured Richard Neville and Don Heussler

Pictured Richard Neville and Don Heussler

In May 2017, I made a gift of a rare map to the NSW State Library.

The photograph shows me discussing the map with the Mitchell Librarian, Richard Neville. This map completes the library’s collection of all seven WWII escape maps of the South East Asian area.

These maps were produced in the USA in about 1942, using the best available maps, many of which were Dutch because of their colonial history in that area.

The fabric of each map is rayon, a synthetic polymer invented by the Dupont company and woven into fabric for clothing and other uses. Rayon is durable, not affected by salt water, may be folded innumerable times and handles with silence…all characteristics needed by the military escaping a war zone. As well, rayon prints exceptionally well and these maps are printed on both sides.

Escape maps were issued to coast watchers, commandoes and airmen flying over enemy areas. Many are quite common but this map is rare and unusual. It is double the size of regular maps and covers the whole of China. This particular example is in mint condition, having been unfolded only twice in its life.

Like many maps, new or old, apart from the utilitarian use of finding one’s way, the map has intrinsic beauty and vibrant colour. This map had been part of my collection of escape maps and I'm proud that it now has a permanent home and will be well preserved by the State Library.