A RARE unearthed collection has offered an insight into the James Bond style gadgets used in the Second World War.
The Q style gizmo’s were developed by MI9 to allow agents and POW’s to cause havoc behind enemy lines.
Daring devices included exploding coal, a miniature camera, concealed daggers, dominoes concealing fragments of a map of France, and even a string vest that doubled up as a line of handy rope.
The collection – which was sold in an online auction at East Bristol Auctions, Bristol, for just under £17,000 – had been built up by Royal Artillery veteran, the late Arthur Muggeridge.
MI9 was set up in 1939 to aid downed Allied airmen and to support European resistance groups.
Auctioneer Andrew Stowe told The Sun: “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.
“It’s a unique collection, I’ve never seen another like it. These items are rare, really rare, near impossible to find, so to have an entire collection of them is certainly very special indeed.”
The sale also includes two dominoes which, once pulled apart, reveal a small section of map. “These were likely sent as a full set,’ adds Andrew. He adds: “Once they had all been pulled apart, they would likely have a complete map of France to England, or similar.
“German prison camp officials wouldn’t think twice that an innocent set of dominoes could do harm, but how wrong they were.
“You can almost picture some RAF officers in their hut pulling apart these dominoes and planning their escape. It’s incredible stuff, both frightening and exhilarating at the same time.”
The craftily concealed spy tools also include a box of matches which hide a secret compass in the base, a miniature spy camera, a miniature radio, and even a specially magnetised razor blade compass.
Andrew said: “These items are very special. They highlight not only the ingenuity of the time, but also the desperation.
“People successfully made it back to Britain because of these items.
“These objects saved lives. It’s really humbling and a perfect example of finding little ways to help those in need. They are quintessentially British.”