Gadgets that helped win the war: Manual reveals ingenious inventions designed for soldiers

Rebecca Lewis
A close-up of one of the pages of the manual shows a cigar which can carrier a map or compass, 'Of Human Bondage' which conceals a map and a handkerchief which doubles as a map (Bonham)

A remarkable catalogue detailing top-secret designs for James Bond-esque gadgets used by British soldiers during the Second World War has been snapped up by a private collector in Canada.

The extraordinary designs, which sold at auction for £5,250, includes coat buttons and gold teeth containing hidden compasses, cameras disguised as cigarette lighters and concealed hacksaws.

The catalogue was put together by inventor Christopher Clayton-Hutton, a real-life 'Q', who was an intelligence officer for MI9, a secret department of the War Office.

MI9 provided British troops with potentially life-saving equipment that looked like ordinary everyday objects.

Hutton's designs shed light on the inventive methods some British prisoners of war adopted to fool the enemy.

The highly creative designs included cloth maps - printed on silk with non-running ink - which could be hidden in a chess piece or a pack of cards, and uniforms which could be tucked and folded into business suits.

An estimated 400,000 maps were printed during the war and about 17,000 Allied escapees carried them around.

Lionel Willis, collectors specialist from Bonhams auctioneers said: "Very few of these catalogues are known to have survived and the remaining copies form rare pieces of secret service history.

"They give a fascinating insight into the ingenuity employed to assist the war effort."

The 79-page catalogue, titled 'Per Ardua Libertas' - which means Liberty Through Adversity - was put together especially for American intelligence officers in 1942.

Having just entered the war, the American group were keen to learn of MI9's covert techniques.

Fewer than 100 of the precious catalogues were printed.

The rare catalogue went under the hammer at Bonhams Gentleman's Library sale on January 30.