Very rare and original WW2 RAF escape and evasion tunic button compass.
These buttons were worn by RAF aircrew flying combat operations over enemy occupied territory.
At first glance the button is fairly unremarkable and looks exactly like any other on an RAF tunic. However, this particular button contains a small compass, carefully concealed and only discoverable by unscrewing the back of the button.
The example for sale is a very rare and early “right hand thread” version of the “4 hole” design rather than the later “4 point star”. These buttons were originally designed with a “right hand thread” which was later changed to a “left hand thread” once the Germans discovered that some buttons concealed escape aids.
These buttons were one of the many ingenious devices developed by Clayton Hutton for M19 in order to assist downed airmen to escape or evade capture whilst finding their way out of enemy territory.
The button is signed on the reverse with the makers mark for Birmingham Buttons Ltd, “B’HAM BUTTONS LTD” together with “TRADE MARK” and a pair of crossed swords.
The button comes direct from the family of the original owner, Flying Officer G.W. Sprawson MID (27th October 1910 – 25th January 2007). It is exceptionally rare for such items to come with any history of their original owner which makes the button for sale even more desirable and highly sought after.