List of SOE establishments

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The following is an incomplete list of training centres, research and development sites, administrative sites and other establishments used by the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War.

Numbered stations[edit]

Establishments concerned with experimental work, storage and production were given Roman numerals (mostly in Hertfordshire). Training schools had Arabic numbers. (These included paramilitary schools around Arisaig, "finishing" schools around Beaulieu and operational schools in various counties including Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire.)

Experimental stations[edit]

  • Station VI - Bride Hall near Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire - the weapons acquisition section.
  • Station VIIa - Bontex Knitting Mills, Beresford Avenue, Wembley - Wireless Section Production
  • Station VIIb - Yeast-Vite factory, Whippendell Road, Watford - Wireless Section, packing and dispatch
  • Station VIIc - Allensor's joinery factory, King George's Avenue, Watford - Wireless Section Research
  • Section VIId - Kay's garage, Bristol Street, Birmingham - Wireless Section Production
  • Station IX - The Frythe estate near Welwyn Garden City, which began as a wireless research unit (Special Signals), then became a weapons development & production centre, then a research and development station. Now a factory belonging to GlaxoSmithKline
  • Station IXa - P O Box 1, Ashford, Middlesex - Submersibles work at Staines reservoir.
  • Station IXc - Fishguard Bay Hotel, Goodwick, Pembrokeshire - Submersibles work in Fishguard Bay.
  • Station XI - Old Gorhambury House near St Albans, Hertfordshire - Accommodation.
  • Station XII - Aston House near Stevenage, Hertfordshire - Production, packaging and dispatch.[1][2]
  • Station XIV - Briggens, near Roydon, Essex, contained the Forgery Section.
  • Station XV - The Thatched Barn - road house on the Barnet bypass at Borehamwood, Hertfordshire - Camouflage Section. Much of the work of this station involved the final equipping of agents who came through the Thatched Barn prior to going to France. Typical of the work was reproducing French clothing which was copied from newspaper photographs, catalogues etc. and had to be perfect down to the last stitch and button. Maps were hand sewn into silk underwear, agents were made up with false humped backs etc. to enhance their disguise. Strict anonymity was observed. The station was also concerned with the development of booby traps including very original devices such as bicycle pumps which were swapped and exploded when used. Other work included packing hand grenades into tins labelled as fruit. The labels were reproduced by skilled artists to look like the real thing. Plaster of Paris was moulded and painted to resemble a log and inside was a Sten gun.
  • Station XVa - 56 Queen's Gate, Kensington, London SW7 - Camouflage Section - prototypes.
  • Station XVb - The Demonstration Room, Natural History Museum in London. Camouflage Section - A training centre for agents and for briefing officials [1]
  • Station XVc - 2-3 Trevor Square, Knightsbridge, South Kensington - Camouflage Section, photographic and make-up section.
  • Station XVII - Brickendonbury, Brickendon, Hertford - Explosive trials
  • Station unknown - Spartan factory, North Circular Road, Wembley - Unknown

Training schools[edit]

Other sites[edit]

Other stations, whose code numbers are unknown, included:

  • Gaynes Hall near St Neots in Cambridgeshire - Norwegian section.
  • 'The Firs' a large house in Whitchurch, Buckinghamshire
  • Henley-on-Thames - quartermaster
  • Norseby House, 83 Baker Street, London - headquarters of European country sections
  • No 6 Special Workshop School - Inverlair, Inverness-shire. According to the RCAHMS and Major Fyffe but Fyffe writes that within three weeks this was changed to simply "Inverlair". Also known colloquially as "The Cooler" and possibly ISRB Workshops.
  • Pictures of many of the sites in the South East of England
  • Messrs Carpet Trades Ltd of Kidderminster packed about 18,500 containers after November 1943.[3]
  • Erlestoke Park (near Devizes) Another stately home used for the 'Senior Officers School' and later for Operation Bardsea as STS 63 an operation for dropping Polish emigres into occupied France. (see above)


  1. ^ Aston Local History
  2. ^ Des Turner, Station 12, Aston House: SOE's Secret Centre (foreword by M. R. D. Foot), Sutton Publishing, 2006, ISBN 0-7509-4277-0
  3. ^ a b c d e William Mackenzie, Secret History of SOE: Special Operations Executive 1940–1945, St Ermin's Press, 2000, ISBN 1-903608-11-2
  4. ^ Stuart Allan, Commando Country, National Museums Scotland, 2007, ISBN 978-1-905267-14-9
  5. ^ David M. Harrison, Special Operations Executive: Para-Military Training in Scotland during World War 2, Land Sea and Islands Centre, Arisaig
  6. ^ Land, Sea and Islands Centre, Arisaig
  7. ^ SOE in the Far East

Further reading[edit]

  • Lynn Philip Hodgson; Foreword by Secret Agent 'Andy Durovecz (2003). Inside Camp X. ISBN 0-9687062-0-7.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthor= (help)
  • Frederic Boyce and Douglas Everett; Foreword by M.R.D. Foot (2003). SOE: The Scientific Secrets. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-3165-5. 
  • Nigel West (1992). Secret War: The Story of SOE, Britain's Wartime Sabotage Organisation. Hodder & Stoughton. 
  • Arthur Christie. Mission Scapula SOE in the Far East. Panda Press. ISBN 0-9547010-0-3. 
  • Rees, Neil (2005). The Secret History of the Czech Connection: The Czechoslovak Government in Exile in London and Buckinghamshire During the Second World War. Buckinghamshire: Neil Rees. ISBN 0-9550883-0-5. OCLC 62196328. 

External links[edit]