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British Industrial History

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Inter-Service Research Bureau

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A secret British Special Operations Executive factory making special weapons and equipment during World War II, later known as Station IX, situated at a mansion called "The Frythe" near Welwyn Garden City.

Commanding Officer: Lt. Colonel John Dolphin.

Chief of Scientific Research: Professor D. M. Newitt

Made up of various sections including:

  • Engineering Section which had two large workshops, one for weapons and transport, and the second for seaborne craft.
  • Wireless Section, which worked on all types of radio communication.
  • Physico-Chemical Section, which worked on explosive devices and materials for sabotage.


Research and development included military vehicles and equipment, explosives and technical sabotage, camouflage, biological and chemical warfare, resulting in various products:

  • Welrod – a simplified pistol with a built-in silencer, designed as an assassination weapon for use by irregular forces and resistance groups (developed from Normgun which was rejected as being too expensive for mass-production).
  • 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 could grab it and fire.
  • Welgun – a basic submachine gun designed to be simple and cost-effective.
  • Welbike – a small single-seat motorcycle designed to be air-dropped for use by paratroops
  • Motorised Submersible Canoe - an open submersible 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.

1945 Incorporated into the Department of Miscellaneous Weapons Development.

1946 it was placed under the Director of Aeronautical and Engineering Research (RNSS Headquarters) to continue development on the uses of hydrogen peroxide as a propellant. It was conveniently close to the factories of ICI and Laporte Chemicals, which were both involved in this work.

1951 Closed; work continued for a time at Coulport under the Superintendent, Torpedo Experiment and Design (STED).


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Wikipedia
  • [2] Personal experience of Station IX
  • [3] National Archives