The weapons of Welwyn: 5 astounding Weapons of the British special Operations executive

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far off control Pistol equipment. picture courtesy of

via Justin Black of Spycraft101

at the onset of the second World battle, the British particular Operations govt fashioned a couple of distinct research and building branches spread all the way through England. One branch, Station IX, became observed at the Frythe property close Welwyn Gardens in Herefordshire. The Frythe, as it is referred to as, has heritage dating again to the thirteenth Century, and the main estate constructing became built in 1846.  When Station IX moved in, they directly constructed numerous transient structures across the property in addition to occupied the whole main constructing and a number of pre-current outbuildings.

a giant range of contraptions, instruments, and weapons have been developed at Station IX. These included radios for resistance opponents, time-delayed pencil detonators, magnetic limpet mines for sabotaging ships in harbor, and maybe even chemical and biological weapons. those ideas that had been considered a hit designs had been then constructed both at Station XII neighborhood or shrunk out to deepest organizations for massive-scale manufacture.

Engineers at Station IX took to naming a lot of their tasks with the prefix “Wel” as a tribute to the station’s location. These include the Welbike (a collapsible bike supposed to be air-dropped), and the Welfreighter (a submarine that may clandestinely transport up to a ton of cargo). There is not any query that Station IX left an indelible mark on sabotage and espionage operations in each the european and Pacific theaters of World battle II.

here i will cowl five different firearms developed at Station IX.

Welwyn property in up to date instances – courtesy of the Welwyn-Hatfield instances

The Welgun

A Welgun prototype. Courtesy of the Imperial warfare Museum.

The Welgun is a prototype submachine gun developed via Station IX beginning in the summer of 1942. It became envisioned as a replacement for the Sten Mk IIs at present in service on the time. Chambered in 9mm Parabellum, it fired from a 32-circular Sten gun magazine at a cost of 500 rounds per minute. during checking out it may reliably feed 9mm ammunition produced in American, British, or German factories, a valuable competencies when working behind enemy lines when resupply may be unpredictable at optimum.

The Welgun is first rate for its lack of a charging tackle. The user cocked the weapon through gripping the serrations on each side of the bolt and pulling it to the rear. The weapon fired from an open bolt, like most of the submachine weapons of that period.

Six prototypes were produced at Station IX with the aid of August 1942. Three were then sent to the Ordnance Board, and three to the Small hands college for checking out and assessment. The Welgun carried out reliably and scored smartly towards the Sten Mk II and Mk IV. The Birmingham Small arms business additionally evaluated the Welgun and was willing to supply it in big portions. They estimated they might start producing Welguns with the aid of April 1943 at a price of 5,000 per thirty days. An estimated 60,000 to a hundred,000 had been required for the war effort.

Welgun with inventory folded.

youngsters, for explanations that don’t seem to be completely clear, it turned into now not adopted by means of the Ordnance Board, who determined to proceed with the construction and deployment of the Sten submachine gun.  The Ordnance Board did advocate that the Welgun’s folding inventory, foregrip, and basic stability be adapted to other future designs, as it had scored very tremendously in these categories throughout checking out.

despite the fact the Welgun changed into in no way adopted in enormous numbers, the six prototypes remained within the SOE’s inventory. at the least one in all them noticed action all over the war. SOE operative Peter Kemp carried a Welgun and a Colt 1911 on his mission into Albania in July 1943. Kemp used it all through the ambush of a lone German body of workers motor vehicle touring on an empty country road. After the initial barrage, which killed three of the car’s four occupants, the Welgun jammed and Kemp transitioned to his 1911. He had given the Welgun to an SOE armorer just just before deployment and thought the armorer had incorrectly adjusted the tolerances.

The SOE crew, codenamed Stepmother, used locally procured mules for transport. Kemp’s Welgun changed into at last lost when the mule caravan was found by a German patrol and the mules deserted because the group members escaped. One wonders if it is rusting away someplace in Albania presently.

The Norm Gun

Norm Gun Prototype

The Norm Gun become an early experiment via Station IX to supply a 9mm submachine gun which could change the Sten SMGs in service at the time. It became designed by using Eric Norman, who named it after himself. This changed into the simplest weapon to come back from Station IX which didn’t bear the “Wel” prefix, possibly since it didn’t make it very far in initial building trials. most effective two prototypes of the Norm Gun are usual to exist. One is held with the aid of the national Firearms Centre in Leeds, England. The other is at the Imperial struggle Museum. Neither is at present on screen, resulting in a dearth of images of the Norm Gun.

just like the Welgun, the Norm Gun fired from an open bolt and utilized 32-circular Sten magazines. but from there it differed enormously. The bolt housing on accurate of the receiver resembled a latest pistol slide, and when pulled to the rear left an astonishingly significant hole into the motion, approximately four inches. This comfortably allowed filth and debris to enter the motion right through average field use and would were an incredible detriment had the weapon moved ahead in trials. The wire inventory set up on the backside of the pistol grip may be removed but now not folded. The Norm Gun was geared up with a selector for switching to entirely computerized fireplace but didn’t have a traditional defense.

Norm Gun appropriate side. Courtesy of TFB television

The Norm Gun’s most enjoyable function is inarguably the wooden foregrip hooked up horizontally on the right side of the barrel, subsequent to the muzzle. The apparent intended use changed into for a right-handed shooter to attain under the barrel along with his left hand and cling the foregrip right through firing. Some reporting shows this resulted in striking balance all over absolutely automated firing, however represents a massive departure from the coping with of practically all different weapons throughout that period and would have required additional practising and familiarization.

not like the following Welgun, the Norm Gun changed into no longer selected to proceed to extra trials via the Ordnance Board or the Birmingham Small hands enterprise. although preliminary reviews had been that the weapon became professional, it become made with milled add-ons which have been drastically extra costly and time-consuming to mass-produce. It has now been relegated to history as certainly one of many exciting experiments on earth of firearms building.

The Sleeve Gun

The Sleeve Gun as it looks in the SOE catalogue.

The official SOE catalog referred to this as a “short length, silent, homicide weapon”. The sleeve gun turned into a variant of the more suitable-widely used Welrod pistol; it was a simple suppressor tube with a single .32 ACP caliber circular loaded into the breech before concealing up the consumer’s sleeve. A gap on the rear of the gun allowed a lanyard to be attached. The lanyard may be looped around the elbow, protecting the sleeve gun concealed unless it changed into obligatory. With a rubber band presenting tension, the Sleeve Gun would disappear again up the person’s sleeve as quickly as they let go of it after firing.

in preference to a traditional set off there turned into a simple knurled change that become pushed forward after which back once again with the thumb to hearth the circular. What appears in the picture to be front and rear points of interest is really the firing swap and set off mechanism housing. The firing change is at the very front of the weapon, and the housing runs to the rear to have an impact on the primer. The firing change acted as a safety to avoid unintentional or negligent discharge while still hid up the sleeve. The intended use changed into without difficulty to press the sleeve gun at once up towards the goal and fire the round. The suppressor muted the shot, and the shortcoming of an ejector mechanism supposed the spent casing remained within the weapon, leaving little proof of what had transpired in the instant moments afterwards. The thick rubber baffles inside the suppressor created an incredibly tight seal across the bullet but would need to get replaced after each 15 rounds or so as a result of hurt taking place all the way through firing.

The weapon is extremely gradual to reload and became in no way intended to provide a multi-shot means all over a single engagement. due to its heft and weight, as well as its single-shot capability, the Sleeve Gun might also feature as a truncheon if fundamental.

Demonstration of a Sleeve Gun’s supposed use.

SOE produced MKI and MKII variants, with the primary difference being the position of the cocking lever on the MKII, which was decrease-profile and reduced the knowledge for snagging inside the agent’s sleeve. The sleeve guns had been manufactured by using the Birmingham Small arms business, which had an in depth working relationship with SOE throughout the warfare. The Sleeve Gun seemed as merchandise quantity 254 within the correct Secret labeled catalog “Descriptive Catalogue of special gadgets and materials,” posted in 1945 by means of the battle department.

unlike the stronger-widely used Welrod, it is unclear if or when any of the sleeve guns had been used in action. best three examples are at the moment well-known to exist. One is in a museum in Norway, and two others are at the countrywide Firearms Centre in Leeds, England.

For more suggestions on the Sleeve Gun, see Anders Thygesen’s miraculous research at

The Welrod

effortlessly the most useful-widely used of all of Station IX’s firearms is the Welrod suppressed pistol, additionally talked about in respectable documentation because the Hand Firing equipment.  Produced in a number of variations in .32ACP and 9mm Parabellum, it noticed extensive deployment and use in the European theater all the way through World battle II.  After the Welrod become developed at Station IX, it became manufactured with the aid of the Birmingham Small palms company (BSA), and perhaps different manufacturers as neatly. because of its covert nature, paper statistics were intentionally stored to a minimal, and to today BSA can not ascertain exactly how many Welrods they produced for the special Operations executive. Serial numbers exist into the 14,000 range, however isn’t clear in the event that they were all sequentially manufactured.

Welrod Mk I 9mm

From the outset, the Welrod become each designed for and supposed to be used as a contact-distance weapon. The respectable guide described the .32ACP edition as correct up to 25 yards, the 9mm edition up to 30 yards. but the pistol’s nostril cap is hole to notably facilitate contact-distance use. Ideally the operative would get shut enough to the goal to press the muzzle at once into them earlier than pulling the trigger.

The Welrod become designed with the aid of important Hugh Quentin Alleyne Reeves, one among Station IX’s most proficient and artistic engineers. he’s also credited with designing the original Sten gun’s suppressor, and development of the “sleeping attractiveness” one-man submersible canoe. On a side be aware, essential Reeve’s work in noise suppression continued after World struggle II, until he met a tragic conclusion in 1955. Working to suppress the noise generated through jet engines, he turned into sucked into the consumption of a Hawker Hunter jet engine while performing exams on the floor and killed.

The Mk I prototype that would turn into the Welrod turned into radically distinctive than the complete product many of us are everyday with nowadays. It featured a standard external bolt tackle, and an inside journal that became loaded with five rounds from the precise down, comparable to a Mauser C96 pistol.  The trigger changed into not in the usual region below the barrel, however as an alternative on the left aspect of the breech, supposed to be pushed ahead via the right thumb. with the aid of June 1943, huge redesigns led to the more recognizable Mk II and Mk IIa .32ACP pistols. The redesigned Welrods had a removable journal adapted from Colt 1903 pistol magazines and sheathed with rubber to characteristic as the pistol grip. The set off became moved lower back below the breech in a extra prevalent design, and the bolt address became replaced via a knurled knob on the rear of the breach which could be pulled backwards, rotated 90 levels, and then pushed ahead again to eject the spent round, load the subsequent round, and cock the firing pin. This resulted in a tremendously reduced profile with simpler concealment, whereas still being quick to reload for a manually cycled weapon.

The Mk I 9mm Parabellum Welrods featured two tremendous changes from the .32ACP versions.  A trigger protect was installed, which allowed the pistol to be extra safely concealed. The .32ACP edition couldn’t be tucked into a waistband while loaded for glaring explanations. The 9mm Welrod additionally featured a detachable suppressor, which once again allowed for a good deal less demanding concealment leading as much as an operational act. The pistol could be fired with out the suppressor if critical, however there have been a long way better handguns purchasable for unsuppressed hearth.

A Welrod is seen in the foreground of this photo of goal apply near Frodeslund, Denmark after liberation from the German army. (Courtesy of

Welrods were used operationally in Denmark on many occasions, according to research carried out with the aid of Anders Thygesen. It became used by way of the Danish resistance essentially in the killing of informants among the many Danish population who have been working for the Nazis.

In December 1943, the Welrod was used through SOE agent Svend Nielsen to dispatch a German sentry on duty on the Kastrup Airport. Nielsen’s mission turned into to infiltrate the airport and steal a newly developed bombsight from a parked German plane. Nielsen changed into found however become able to break out, although his associate on the mission was killed.

On January third, 1944, a Nazi collaborator named Mr. Nordahl become attacked in his domestic by way of Danish Resistance individuals carrying Welrods. Two men pinned him to the ground and shot him in the head. The pistol was so quiet that his spouse did not hear the commotion from the subsequent room over. Nordahl died in the sanatorium three days later devoid of ever regaining attention.

On September 17th, 1944, Mrs. Frederikke Rungager was killed while recovering in Aarhus County hospital. A nurse entered her private ward that day to find her dead from a gunshot wound to the pinnacle. The killer become not ever recognized.

Even the Nazis themselves took to the usage of captured Welrods towards the Danish resistance individuals. on the direction of the legendary Otto Skorzeny, a bunch of SS officers known because the Peter community (after their leader’s alias) carried out assassination missions against well known Danes as retribution for attacks via the Resistance.  Between February 1944 and January 1945, the Peter group assassins killed as a minimum three Danes and wounded a different in focused assassinations.  These blanketed a newspaper editor, a Parliament member, and a widespread lawyer.

Welrods had been additionally supplied by means of SOE to a couple of U.S. personnel on Jedburg teams. The OSS acquired at least two Welrods for testing and found it to be an excellent weapon average. besides the fact that children, they endured to keep on with the hi regular model HD MS .22 pistol as their primary silenced pistol all through the battle and beyond.

After World battle II, the Welrod remained in a number of inventories and popped up on occasion world wide.

Mitchell Werbell demonstrating the Welrod to a South Vietnamese military widely wide-spread. (Courtesy of

within the late Nineteen Fifties (and sure beyond), the U.S. military special Forces Detachment Berlin changed into issued Welrods and US-made high usual mannequin HD MS suppressed pistols. On one event they were given a mission to perform a vulnerability assessment on West Berlin’s firebrand Mayor Willy Brandt (who would later serve as the Chancellor of West Germany). Tasked to get a hold of methods that communist infiltrators could use to assassinate Brandt, the detachment surreptitiously tailed him for several weeks. They eventually offered 4 seemingly situations for assassinating him. One of those worried using a Welrod pistol with the journal removed and rolled up inner of a newspaper with a view to get shut enough for a killing shot. The Detachment additionally carried the Welrod on missions up to the Berlin Wall starting in the early 1960s, in case it become essential to dispatch an East German sentry or preserve dog.

There is some facts that it turned into used by British forces in Northern eire during the Troubles, and all over the Falkland Islands conflict towards Argentina.  the united states relevant Intelligence agency maintained a few 9mm Welrods in their arsenal through as a minimum 1965 and maybe past.  The commandos of armed forces suggestions Command Vietnam studies and Observations group used Welrods in Vietnam, along with a number of different suppressed weapons.  And it will possibly have even been issued as late as 1991 right through the Gulf conflict in opposition t Iraq.

To at the present time the Welrod garners attention through its appearance in video video games and film. despite its archaic design and appearance, few weapons have surpassed its capabilities as an in depth-in device for assassinations.

For greater assistance on the Welrod, see Anders Thygesen’s remarkable research at

The faraway control Pistol

far flung control Pistol apparatus. (image courtesy of

The ultimate weapon from Station IX is not a new firearm design in the strictest sense. as a substitute, it is a novel components for carrying and firing a Colt 1903 pistol from concealment. The artistic nature of this idea marks it as a signature weapon from Welwyn. The far off manage Pistol become developed as a latest-ditch shielding measure for agents working in the back of enemy traces.

installed on the waist, and pointed forward, a cable went from the trigger up the sleeve to an actuator attached to a finger ring. The Mk II variant featured a cumbersome cover plate which hampered concealment but offered a greater sturdy brace for the pistol when fired. The circular cuts on the backside of the cowl plate allowed for simpler reloading of the pistol with out casting off the harness.

On December twenty seventh, 1941, as a part of Operation Chilblain, Karl Bruhn and Mogens Hammer parachuted into Denmark to set up SOE’s initial presence and operational telephone in Denmark. alas, Bruhn’s parachute failed to open when the snap hook on the static line inside the aircraft detached. He plummeted to the floor and died on affect. German forces occupying Denmark discovered his physique and machine and have been stunned to locate this Mk I far off manage Pistol in one of his bags.

at the time, Danish and German police normal method for effecting an arrest was to put a hand on the shoulder of the suspect whereas ordering them to place their arms within the air. In a situation like this, the RCP changed into an ideal weapon to counter any attempted arrest. Police forces in each nations modified their tactics after the invention of the RCP.

remote manage Pistol displayed after its discovery by using German officers in the aftermath of Operation Chilblain.

about forty-50 RCPs were produced below contract by way of the Wilkes Brothers gun store in London for the SOE. An SOE doc from close the conclusion of World war II lists the inventors of the far off handle Pistol as J.R.V. Dolphin (the commander of Station IX) and E. Norman (inventor of the Norm Gun).

it is believed that Czech agents had been also issued as a minimum one RCP to be used all through Operation Anthropoid in Prague, Czechoslovakia. .32ACP caliber shells were found in the aftermath of the assault on the target of the operation, SS Officer Reinhard Heydrich, even though it is unknown exactly how they had been fired.

the us office of Strategic capabilities additionally developed a gadget akin to the faraway manage Pistol. The OSS edition used a Colt .25ACP pistol established excessive up below the operative’s arm. a tool looped across the wearer’s upper chest and prompted the weapon to hearth when the consumer took an intentionally deep breath. The OSS edition on no account made it out of the construction stage. This SOE edition became a radically greater design in just about all respects.


With the conclusion of hostilities in mid-1945, Station IX’s work came to an in depth. The special Operations government turned into officially dissolved in January 1946. The Frythe property close Welwyn changed into eventually used as a research facility with the aid of Unilever and later GlaxoSmithKline. It has now been converted into a housing building.

while many SOE personnel lower back to the civilian occupations they had held earlier than the war all started, pretty much 300 personnel were brought into the special Operations department of MI6.  MI6 became exceptionally drawn to those personnel worried in analysis and building, so lots of the Station IX engineers, scientists, and technicians found a 2nd calling, constructing tools and weapons for a brand new generation of operatives in the years that followed, because the Iron Curtain slammed down throughout Europe and the bloodless warfare started.


Canadian war Museum, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Imperial struggle Museum, uk.

TFB television. 26 April 2017. top Secret WWII machine weapons: The Norm and Welgun.

Thygesen, Anders.

Lewis, Alex. 26 April 2017. New era for Welwyn’s Former Commando gadget Lab. Welwyn Hatfield instances.

Stejskal, James. December 2017. cold warfare Warriors: The guys of special Forces Detachment Berlin. American Rifleman magazine. October 4th, 2016. Welgun and Welrod.

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