The 1944 Escape Boot

Contributed by Northampton Museums

The 1945 Escape Boot made by Haynes & Cann. c The Shoe Collection, Northampton Museums

This boot has a small knife hidden in it.Boot factories across Northamptonshire increased production to support the WWII war effort. At Haynes & Cann, a factory specialising in flying boots, extra effort was put into developing new technologies that would increase pilots' safety and comfort. One such invention was the Escape Boot.
If a pilot was forced to bale out of his plane and land in enemy territory he had a good chance of finding new clothes with which to disguise himself but his boots would give him away. This boot was designed so that the leg of the boot could be cut away to leave an Oxford shoe. The inside leg of the right boot has a pocket containing a small penknife for just this purpose. With the boot leg removed, and wearing his non-military looking Oxford shoes, the pilot would have a better chance of evading capture.

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