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Escape & Evasion Life Barter kit


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#1 wartimecollectables.com

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 05:10 PM

Pacific Theater Escape & Evasion kit with Milus watch & gold
Much gold has been scrap melted and the rare Milus watches are coveted by timepiece collectors, leaving few intact "Life barter kits" available for  collectors.  This is an original and complete Pacific #047 version with a beautiful condition running Milus watch.  The United States Navy created these kits in WWII and issued them to Pilots and Paratroopers to barter their way out of difficult situations if they were downed in unfriendly territory. The Escape and Evasion kits were issued in both a European and a Pacific version. This, rarer Pacific issue contains 1.08 Troy Ounces of solid gold and the Milus Snow Star reference number M.40.81 Wristwatch. The plastic case for the watch has been opened to inspect the watch however it remains intact.

The gold in the WWII "Pacific Barter Kits" consists of:  
1 Gold Link Chain (four links) 1 ¾" (44.45MM) length
1 Gold Embossed Pendant
2 Gold Rings
21-Jewel Milus Swiss Calendar Watch with Cloth Band.

 

 

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#2 wartimecollectables.com

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 05:12 PM

A friend recently told me he has an unopened kit.  Neat!  but my curiosity of seeing the contents prevailed!

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#3 dustin

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 05:54 PM

You do realize this thing being WWII is hog wash. All you need to do that is investigate the watch, that dates it right there. How does a kit that includes a watch that was introduced in the 1960,s era become WWII? Just sayin.
The biggest pitfall to both styles is , how come in all the advanced research and understanding about the abundance of escape and evasion equipment, these have never turned up in any WWII literate?
It is my belief these are Cold War era escape and evasion aids.
In the case anyone wants to bring up the point that some of the coins are dated to pre WWII, consider this, when operating in a hostile territory it was of SOP to pay people's with currency that is not suspicious in any way. Old dated monies would,be something you'd expect the indigenous people to have.

#4 wartimecollectables.com

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 07:36 PM

Not even sure where to begin with reply.
The history of these kits is well documented. As for finding one from a vet. Considering the value and how they were issued, the chance of an aviator walking away with one is doubtful. I've never found a Thompson smug in a vet buy but pretty sure they were issued in WWII!
"The Milus “Snow Star” was made during WWII, the ones used in the kit were made in 1941 according to the Milus Records (date of sale as well as serial numbers)."
From the Smithsonian webpage http://collections.s...and Evasion Kit
80-55-E, US Navy Escape and Evasion Barter Kit South East Asia Accession: 80-55-EUS Navy Escape and Evasion Barter Kit, South East Asia Serial# 494 2.88" H x 4.01" W x 1"D US Navy Escape and Evasion Barter Kits, South East Asia. The case of the kit is made from rubber which was sealed . The kit contains a gold swiss watch with a cloth watch band, two gold rings and a gold pendant with chain. The kits were used by service personnel when they were in enemy territory to aid their escape.
Curator Branch, Naval History and Heriatge Command.
One for sale https://www.sarasota...ssued-6441.html
Blog on the Millusmillus watch http://www.businessi...rter-kit-2011-8
Well researched FB page on these https://www.facebook...151785310696696

#5 Survival

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 08:57 PM

I have a friend who probably wrote the very first book on escape aids a number of years ago.  We had discussed this very kit years ago and he told me he had researched the watch and dated it to the Vietnam era also.   The spring 2017 issue of The Military Advisor has an article on this kit.  The author also stated it was Vietnam era but does not give any references.  I don't know for sure personally its time frame but in a debate I would not bet the farm either way.   Way back in the day decades ago I purchased an Atlantic kit for $700.00.  I actually had to get a loan to buy it.



#6 jerry_k

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 01:12 AM

This watch not looks like WW2 issue especialy with black nylon band? 

 

US NAVY pilot have this own Barter kit during the WW2. Here are photos below.

 

 

Regards,

Jerry

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#7 63 RECON

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 03:09 AM

I'm not a watch guy but this is an interesting thread about the same subject. They reference this particular kit. 

 

https://omegaforums....-capsule.42389/

 

From what I've also read Rolex was the first to have the date adjustment on a watch in 1945 even though it may have been patented earlier. 


Edited by 63 RECON, 18 November 2017 - 03:23 AM.


#8 dustin

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 04:35 AM

That blog posted by 63Recon sums it up pretty well, its a late 1950-60's barter kits, for a multitude of reasons. Both types. The watch has been proven to be of that era. The other the thing is that the kit has a nylon watch strap, that's also a dead give away to being well post WWII. I'm sorry, but I see nothing that I would consider "well researched" on that Facebook page, actually any research at all for that matter.

How come with all the records and documentation that has been found, why are these kits never mentioned? I have a pretty good archive of intelligence records and they discuss everything from gold, money, opium, jewelry, trinkets...you name it for trade and barter but never mention these kits. Well I know why, because they are not WWII. I would like to add that these kits are not well documented, the only history to these things is we know they we sold at auction from the DOD. As an example, look at the bibliography of the book Last Hope by Baldwin, out of all that top shelf reference material dealing with all facets of intelligence escape and evasion these kits were never mentioned. And it is probably the reason why these were not added in the publication. 

Jerry, my friend, sorry to say the kit you posted is the sister to the Asiatic kit and is of the same era. 


Edited by dustin, 18 November 2017 - 04:42 AM.


#9 dustin

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 04:52 AM

Alternately, I see nothing that resembles any research in any of those links posted, they all just repeat the same thing. Its like watching CNN repeating the same Talking Points over and over.



#10 wartimecollectables.com

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 05:42 AM

 

Trying my best to sort out this thread ("Just the facts, ma'am, leave out the hogwash.") and am seeing the doubt myself.
The link 63 RECON posted above is so far the most exacting info I see and lends credence to the circa 1963 claim. I want to look further into the changes in names and abbreviations used by the Navy as that may be the final way to date these.  Glad I posted this and excited about the information that's coming out.

 

FYI Regards the nylon watch band..
Nylon was first used commercially in a nylon-bristled toothbrush in 1938, followed more famously in women's stockings or "nylons" which were shown at the 1939 New York World's Fair and sold commercially quickly in many consumer goods such as toothbrushes, fishing lines, and lingerie, and in special uses such as surgical thread and parachutes.



#11 jerry_k

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 12:58 PM

Hmm Dustin I was thinking all the time that this kit (from my post) are WW2 issued?  But you are better in this area for sure !

 

Regards,

Jerry



#12 manayunkman

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 01:11 PM

The serial number in the watch will match to a year of manufacture.

 

The style however is post WW2.

 

The serial number will confirm this.



#13 Patchcollector

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 02:41 PM

This is a great discussion on an interesting subject.I'm no expert on watches,so I have no idea the date of the ones in this thread,but when it was mentioned that older coins were possibly deliberately used I was wondering if older watches could also been put in the kits too?The reason being that anyone sporting a brand new Swiss watch may come under closer scrutiny?



#14 wartimecollectables.com

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 02:44 PM

The serial number in the watch will match to a year of manufacture.
The style however is post WW2.
The serial number will confirm this.


Do you know where to access the serial number list?

#15 manayunkman

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 02:57 PM

The company is still in business they will have a list.

 

Failing that you might have to join a watch forum.



#16 Patchcollector

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 03:15 PM

I found this interesting Youtube video where the CEO of Milus discusses the kits:

 

https://youtu.be/HOSUnUGmaY8

 

 

 

Here is the info that accompanies the video:

Published on Apr 1, 2012

 

Haute Time recently had the fantastic opportunity to sit down with Doron Basha, CEO of Milus in The Americas.

One of the most buzzed about items at Basel World 2012 was the Milus "Snow Star" watch. The timepiece is truly a piece of history, dating back to the 1940s.

About a year and a half ago, a military historian contacted Basha to let him know he was in possession of a "life barter kit "and inside was a Milus watch. While Basha was unfamiliar with what a life barter kit was, he was immediately intrigued. Turns out, a life barter kit is a sealed rubber kit that was carried by Navy pilots in World War II in the Pacific campaign. The kit was designed as a way of protection if the pilots were to land in an a hostile indigenous area. The trinkets inside including gold rings, pendents and yes, a Milus watch could be used to trade, or as the name says "barter," for survival.

For Basel 2012, Milus released two special edition Snow Star watches, one in steel, 2mm bigger than the original and limited to just 1,940 pieces. It has an automatic movement and the face is almost identical to the original. It comes, of course, as a kit with compass cuff links and a customizable dog tag. The limited edition watch will retail for $2,950.

Milus also released a gold Snow Star model limited to just 88 pieces and is a hand-wind timepiece. The reason the gold is a hand-wind as opposed to the automatic steel version is Milus wanted to incorporate antique movements from 1940 and they were able to find just 99 of them.

Check out the video above to get an inside look at the Snow Star as well as the other Milus timepieces shown at Basel World 2012 with Doron Basha, CEO of Milus in The Americas.



#17 dustin

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 08:34 AM

Here is where I have a issue with that interview. You will note that the "military historian" injected the idea that these were WWII. Obviously that was their belief. The company CEO had no idea. 

Now, I'm just trying to start a conversation to really take a good look at these things. They have been around for years, and I had no qualms about them being WWII. Fast forward to recent years, I am now on the side that these are not and this is why. We have such a more indepth understanding of escape and evsaion aids today thanks to declassified records of the intelligence services. A handful of individuals have done some deep digging and they have found nothing, WWII wise. I personally have in my records a month-month intelligence summaries and briefings, in these, they discuss E&E provisions with records that specially detail them as line items, describing all this equipment in-depth. Neither of these kits are mentioned. My opinion derives from a research hard data point of view. The watch only reinforces my perspective. The technology may have derived in the WWII era, but I have an issue with a new fan dangled item making their way in these kits considering the multitude of other options that were much more readily available. Also, yes nylon was around but not fully utilized. We don't start seeing the conversation to nylon wrist bands until the post war era with compasses and watches and other articles. in WWII, leather, cotton and canvas were the typical.

This is one of those things that truly Sucks, at some point someone dubbed these WWII with zero provenance or credence. And here we are trying to battle a mythical creature (a Leprechaun riding a Griffin) that has no, ZERO, support in them even being remotely of the era. There is a very long paper trail that mentions every other E&E item under the sun from WWII, but not these. However, missing that one document, from whatever era, that mentions these definitely proving what they are. Collectors that have been around long enough can relate to this same scenario a hundred times. 

In the kit that contains dated coins, I think, is what brought about the assumption they are WWII, because they date to the era. But we have to take into consideration on how distribution or payments to the indigenous peoples took place. The monies provided in E&E aids during WWII were purposely pre-war dated. This was to protect the recipient from any type of potential persecution by the opposing force when interrogated. Even decades later, a gold coin dated from the 1930's would not be suspicious at all. The older the coin the better. In these regions where ancient cultures reigned, I'm sure the indigenous peoples have all sorts and find all sorts of old coins.  



#18 pararaftanr2

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 09:26 AM

Dustin,

Thanks for taking the time to explain in detail your thoughts on these kits. I don't have any answers, but I do still have questions. Foremost would be whether the War Department, or Department of Defense (depending on their true vintage) would produce and distribute kits of this nature to fliers in peace time, or only in wartime? If in wartime, they make sense as a valuable tool if forced down in enemy territory. If peacetime, not so much? It seems clear that the watch in the "Southeast Asia" kit dates to at least the late 1950s, or more likely the 1960-70s, so that would correspond with a hot war in that region. The "Atlantic" kit, by the nature of the gold coins used and the admonition on the outside of the rubber case, would appear to be intended for the other side of the world however, which was not involved in a hot war at the time, only a cold one, where being shot down and having to evade were not of huge concern. 

Regards, Paul



#19 Patchcollector

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 09:31 AM

Dustin,Roger that.Watching the video I had that same feeling too;that the CEO was pretty young and had no direct knowledge but was probably just going on what had been told to him.I posted the vid because it pertained to the topic of this discussion,just another piece in this puzzle.
Surely somewhere there has to be some documentation that can nail down the date(s) that these were made and issued.Hopefully something will surface that will put an end to this mystery.Has there been any progress with the watch serial number?

 

Fascinating topic and conversation nonetheless.

 

Speaking to Pauls' question,if they are postwar,they could still be issued as Military missions go on whether we are at war or not.

A good example would be U-2 missions.


Edited by Patchcollector, 19 November 2017 - 09:32 AM.


#20 dustin

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 10:38 AM

Well Paul and Patchcollector, My thought would be that it doesn't have to have a direct "war zone" connection. Like the U2 suggestion, I'm sure there were a multitude of reconnaissance type missions being flown over what could be considered 'Hostile" regions, these would be areas that may not be exactly very friendly to outsiders, Tribal type cultures, aggressive factions all through the middle east and eastern Europe. Cold War operations.  If a plane were to go down in a province or country that was sympathetic to the communists or just strait up mean SOB's there would be a necessity, in essence, to  "Buy" their cooperation. Gold is a very good universal Hard currency. 

Same could be said for Southeast Asia with the Red scare all through the region, same applies to Europe and the Middle East. Lets think about the Watch, If in the late 1950's or Early 60's a pilot goes down in Asia and utilizes the watch as payment. The branding is Swiss, which doesn't have an American connection. None of the gold items have any correlation to being American. Cold War clandestine type misdirection. 

I think we need to consider Soviet operations and influence, and the game they wanted to play on the world stage. Us, Capitalist pigs, kept a close eye out for sure utilizing air power.  


Edited by dustin, 19 November 2017 - 10:49 AM.


#21 pararaftanr2

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 12:04 PM

I see your point, but also take into consideration that the "Atlantic" kit, I have to assume from its markings, is specifically a Navy item. There is no such obvious connection for the "Southeast Asia" kit which is sans markings. I have to wonder if the government employee who wrote the DOD ad for these kits when they were auctioned off simply lumped them into the same catagory because they apeared similar externally? Could the Navy kit precede the "Southeast Asia" kit by approximately 20 years, but use the same packaging technology of a sealed rubber case? NavAirLant , established in 1943, was and still is "responsible for the material readiness, administration, training, and inspection of units/squadrons under their command, and for providing operationally ready air squadrons and aircraft carriers to the fleet" on the eastern seaboard of the USA and the Atlantic Ocean area. The contents of the "Atlantic" kit, to me at least, seem more appropriate to the time period when Navy fliers might have found themselves down in Nazi occupied Europe, or Northern Africa, rather than Cold War Eastern Europe, or the Soviet Union in the 1960s.



#22 dustin

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 12:47 PM

I have to laugh a little bit because I'm at a loss of solid data, which is frustrating, you make a good solid point and argument. Both points of view or theories have validity, but where does the truth lie? ....we don't have it. I've laid down my reasoning for my belief of it being not WWII, you in turn, laid down equal food for thought and has to be seriously taken into consideration. I guess at this point we are left with.....agree to disagree! However, I will remain open minded. 

Let me add this, out of the magnitude of E&E aids produced during WWII, I don't recall or are aware of anything utilizing this packing method. The other hurdle I have is that I fail to see how such an item would be under the control of NavAirLant at the time. It was established early on, prior to the establishment of the said Naval command, that all E&E would be delegated through British MI-9 for matters in Europe. Very little aids were actually produced by the US for the war effort in that region for that reason. NavAirLant requesting such an aid does fit the mold of procedures already pre-established. I do understand there was considerable US Naval air power activity in the Med but would have been working in coordination with British intelligence. I can see NavAirLant in the post war era taking on a stronger role in this facet because there was no longer a deep coordinated war effort in the region and a disconnection of British influence. Alternately, MIS-X in the United States had controlling power during the  war having a joint committee of representatives of all branches of service that in turn worked closely with the intelligence sections of each branch or servcie. Here, we have a strange potential occurrence that one single entity operated out of the establishment, when MIS-X was principally responsible for the distribution of E&E aids. It is not fitting the mold of the structure how I have come to understand it for WWII.  


Edited by dustin, 19 November 2017 - 12:49 PM.


#23 pararaftanr2

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 01:40 PM

Dustin,

If anyone can solve the mystery, I'm confident it will be you. I have "a dog in the fight" so to speak becasue I've had one of the "Atlantic" kits in my collection for several years in the belief that it was of WW2 vintage. I will keep an open mind, but I'll also hang on to it just in case it proves not to be from the 1960s, ultimately. Do we have any collectors here of post-WW2 Naval Aviation that may have some knowledge of these kits being used?

Regards, Paul



#24 dustin

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 01:57 PM

Right!? If you have one, you may be more compelled to be a believer, and on the flip side, if they do prove to be WWII I'll be pissed that I don't have one! A positive thing is that they have gold, which maintains some value and am sure those who have bought one years ago, it may be worth more than they purchased it for having the precious metal.



#25 doyler

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 01:58 PM

This is a great topic as I have always had a curious fascination with these and have seen a handful come up for sale over the years.Some opened some sealed.I recall there were a batch to hit the market in the 1980s to early 1990s.There was a company who had a full page add in the Shotgun News and they were selling these or were going to auction.I don't recall which it was.One of those adds I didn't save.If I recall correctly the ad hyped these as WW2,newly discovered etc.Possible this led to the initial believe these were from the WW2 period and over time like much of the information that's not verified it became accepted.

 

I agree with Dustins logic.Also cant say I ever spoke to a WW2 vet who said he carried one.Not that I have spoken to hundreds but nothing I recall came up about these kits.

 

I did speak with a Air Corps vet from the CBI and also purchased some silk maps,chits,etc.He state one of his jobs was packing parachute kits and this is how he ended up bringing home a "few left overs".One map is actually printed in Dehradun India




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