RARE maps of East Lancashire handed to top Nazi commanders preparing for the invasion of Britain are up for sale.

The large-scale maps of Blackburn and Accrington, showing buildings of strategic or military importance and targets for Luftwaffe bombers, were issued in Berlin in 1942.

They label hospitals, railways, water supplies, mills, metalworks, bridges, and other targets.

They are being sold by York-based collector Michael Cole, who said: “In short, these street plans are confidential documents prepared at the height of the Second World War, for use by high-ranking military planners, officers and their immediate staff within the top echelons of the German war machine.

“They are very difficult to find, particularly in this fine condition, and of immense local history interest.

“I buy these maps whenever I see them, and I have only come across three sets in 10 years. They are worth around £100 for the pair.”

The maps are at a scale of 1:10,000, which is around six inches to the mile. They are classed at number five on the UKBI Rarity Scale, which means the maps ‘when catalogued, no other example, or no example in equivalent condition, can be found worldwide’.

During the war, the Germans drew up plans for Operation Sealion, or Unternehmen Seelowe, the invasion of Britain.

Huge scores of Nazi soldiers would have attempted to land along the south coast, but after the Battle of Britain in 1940, the plans were put on hold.

Mr Cole said: “However, while abandoning their immediate plans to invade, the German High Command continued to gather together detailed information to prepare the ground for any future invasion or occupation of Britain.

“What is nice about the Accrington maps in particular is they are incredibly detailed.”

Mr Cole is selling the maps from his own private collection, which he has amassed over the last 45 years.

The 60 or so items include rare military books, maps, and documents including both German and Allied Forces intelligence material.