MI9: Evade & Escape – Further Reading

MI9: Evade & Escape

Thank you for playing MI9: EVADE & ESCAPE and congratulations on making it to Gibraltar and onto a ship home. Your fictional journey was undertaken at great peril by around 5000 allied airmen during World War II, aided by the ingenuity of the little-known intelligence division MI9, and the breathtaking courage of the networks of volunteers operating Escape and Evasion lines in occupied Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Denmark. It is to them that this game is respectfully dedicated.


MI9 was one of 19 numbered divisions of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, part of the UK War Office in the 20th century. In World War II, MI9 dealt specifically with efforts to help downed air crew and prisoners of war escape, evade capture and return home. Its work ranged from parachuting agents into occupied territory to help organise escape and evasion efforts, to the development of the kind of secret gadgets that would inspire Ian Fleming’s Q in the James Bond books. With the aid of magician Jasper Maskelyne, MI9 devised ways to smuggle money, maps, compasses and other escape aids into German prisoner-of-war camps in the guise of board games, records, blankets and sports equipment. Other devices were concealed in uniforms – from the convertible disguises mentioned in the game to magnetised fly buttons that could be used as a compass. Other devices were still more like something from spy fiction, from the torch concealed in a bicycle pump for signalling friendly aircraft, to a fountain pen that contained a deadly poison dart gun.

Escape & Evasion Lines

“My name is Andrée…but I would like you to call me by my code name, which is Dédée, which means little mother. From here on I will be your little mother, and you will be my little children. It will be my job to get my children to Spain and freedom.”

Andrée de Jongh, leader of the Comète Line

While the Resistance as a whole is a well known feature of occupied Europe during World War II, the work of arguably its most courageous groups has got lost in the bigger picture. More than 20 organised networks of volunteers, the Escape and Evasion Lines, sheltered airmen and escaped prisoners of war, and at great personal risk accompanied them through occupied territory, usually to neutral (although Fascist) Spain. The volunteers were often young women, some still in their teens, leading one airman to comment “Our lives are going to depend on a schoolgirl.” These “schoolgirls” risked capture, interrogation, torture and death to help allied air crew reach safety. Many paid the ultimate price. Their story deserves to be told.

Further Reading

MI9 (Wikipedia)

MI9: The Secret British Organization Set Up in WWII to Help Prisoners Of War Escape (War History Online)

MI9: Escape and Evasion 1939-1945, by M R D Foot & J M Langley

Saturday at MI9 by Airey Neave

Escape and Evasion Lines (Wikipedia)

Andrée de Jongh, leader of the Comète Line (Wikipedia)