Station IX

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For Station IX of Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem, see Via Dolorosa.

Station IX (formerly known as the Inter-Services Research Bureau) was a secret British Special Operations Executive factory making commando equipment during World War II. It was established at a mansion called 'The Frythe' about an hours drive north from London near the town of Welwyn.

'Station IX' was responsible for the development and production of weapons for the SOE which was formed on 19 July 1940 to support the organisation of agents and cells of resistance throughout occupied Europe and to provide weapons and special equipment. The SOE headquarters was at 64 Baker Street in London, under the cover name of the Inter Services Research Bureau (ISRB). Station IX was one of several workshops and laboratories throughout England and the Commanding Officer was John Dolphin.

'The Frythe' was an exclusive hotel but was commandeered in August 1939 by the British Military Intelligence. Under the Chief of Scientific Research, Professor D.M. Newitt, secret research included military vehicles and equipment, explosives and technical sabotage, camouflage, biological and chemical warfare. In the grounds of the Frythe small cabins and barracks functioned as laboratories and workshops.[1] It was an unusual organisation to command for as well as being heavily guarded by Alsatian dogs the personnel included civilian scientists and craftsmen, (who like Dolphin received 'war service' military rank) and military personnel from all three services, who all wore their own regimental badges and uniform.[2]

All machines developed for the SOE by Station IX at Welwyn were given prefix "Wel-".[3] Dolphin was responsible for the Welbike and Welman and lead the development of the Welfreighter. One of the most productive and creative engineers attached to Station IX was Major H Q A Reeves who invented both the Welrod and the Sleevegun. He was also, among others, behind the silencer for the Sten gun, fluorescent night sights, the Welbum gun and the Welbum. This was made clear in a document that was produced at the end of the war to ensure that the correct people were credited for their inventions.[4]


  • Welrod – a simplified pistol with a built-in silencer, designed as an assassination weapon for use by irregular forces and resistance groups.
  • Sleeve gun - a device attached to the forearm concealing a small firearm under a long-sleeved coat or jacket. When triggered the firearm extends out of the gadget so that the user can grab it and fire
  • Welgun – a basic submachine gun designed to be simple and cost-effective
  • Normgun – the predecessor of the Welgun, rejected as being too expensive for mass-production
  • Welbike – a small single-seat motorcycle designed to be air-dropped for use by paratroops
  • "Sleeping Beauty" - a Motorised submersible canoe enabling a single frogman to carry out clandestine reconnaissance or sabotage missions
  • Welman submarine – a one-man British midget submarine designed for attacks against enemy vessels.
  • Welfreighter - a midget submarine developed for the purpose of landing and supplying agents behind enemy lines.
  • Welbum - a device to provide motive power for parachutists who were dropped into water. It consisted of a streamlined metal container with an electric motor and battery inside which was harnessed to the back of the swimmer. Driven by a screw, it would travel silently for 2 miles at 2 knots.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "S.O.E.". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  2. ^ "People's War". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  3. ^ "WWII Welbikes". Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  4. ^ Fredric Boyce and Douglas Everett SOE The Scientific Secrets Sutton 2003
  5. ^ National Archives Special Operations Executive Records Release 8th Feb 2002