Sara Jane Murray of Home Front Vintage and Natalie Thakur first met whilst both exhibiting at the same event in Clerkenwell. Early in 2016 they
organised to meet again to talk about collaborating on some new products. As they were talking about the escape and evade maps that Sara Jane
uses in her work, Natalie mentioned her grandfather William Ramsden who had been a Lancaster Bomber pilot during WW2. They realised that many people ‘carry’ stories and the memories of their relatives who lived through the 1940s and 1950s, and it is only at chance meetings do they get to share these stories. The ‘carried with us’ project was born – a collaboration of beautiful bags made from leather and vintage military blankets, all lined with original silk maps. Each bag to be a limited edition and named after someone who lived through WW2 or the post war period, and to continue on to a new owner with a photograph and a telling of their story and sharing of our past.
The story of the maps:
Escape maps were the creation of Clayton Hutton, an eccentric MI9 British Army Officer during WW2. Hutton had maps printed onto silk as it doesn’t degrade in water and also doesnt rustle like paper. The maps were issued to the military throughout WW2 and beyond; with troops hiding maps inside the lining of their uniform or hollowing out the heel of their boot and hiding the map there. If they were captured or shot down, they then had a map so they could try and escape and find their way home. All the escape and evade items in the collection are made from genuine issue, rescued maps from the Cold War.
Many of our maps were sourced from an ex-Royal Engineers soldier. He started his army career as a private and worked his way up through the ranks to become a commissioned officer. During the 1960s he was told to clear out the regimental stores and ‘get rid’ of boxes and boxes of maps. The maps dated from WW2 to the start of the Cold War; they had been such a success during WW2 that the Military continued to print them into the 1950s. Being the resourceful chap that he was, the Engineer ‘got rid’ of the maps by storing them in his loft, where they stayed until he contacted a friend of Sara Jane from Home Front Vintage, who passed them onto her, and now to Nat Thakur. Thanks to him the story of the maps go on.
Who the bags are named after: