17th December 2020

Compass Buttons

Army News (Darwin, NT), 12th September 1945 page 3.

For a Canadian version of this button, see  https://www.historicflyingclothing.com/en-GB/escape-compasses/rcaf-escape-evasion-compass-button—rare-small-size/prod_17309#.X8rTv6lS-V4 

Compass buttons came in varying forms. Some were fashioned in the form of magnetised trouser/shirt buttons, marked only with two dots for north, and one for south. When dangled from a string, they would give the direction. Other forms required two buttons to be balanced on each other to allow the top button to swing around to indicate north.  I can’t imagine these were a great help, but perhaps it was more for the moral boost it provided. I am not sure where these were made; perhaps Britain.

Wikimediahttps://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30081304. From Auckland Museum. “WW2 escaper’s button compass issued to the Royal Australian Air Force The same type of compass was issued to New Zealand and UK aircrew The compass takes the form of two buttons; these were generally used as buttons on the fly of their battledress pants. When removed the buttons position together to form a compass.”


However, WW2 was not the first time these were used …

The Advertiser (Adelaide), 8th May 1936 page 9.

The Sun (Sydney), 23rd August 1936 page 8. For sale at Farmer’s.