Tag Archives: SOE

Welrod Redux

If you are a fan of guns, you know what this bad boy is:

Yup, the almost totally suppressed .32 ACP Welrod pistol, designed at Station IX by the SOE’s Inter-Services Research Bureau during WWII.

In 2014, Swiss gun maker Brugger & Thomet introduced the VP-9, or Veterinary Pistol 9, a gun that was designed much along the Welrod’s lines and intended for limited use for humane field euthanasia in extremis.

The BT VP9. Can you say, “polymer Welrod?”

Fast forward to this week and the company, now rebranded over here as B&T USA– and with Army and USAF sub-gun contracts under their belt— has come clean that the VP9 was created back in the day for a “special user” then marketed to cow and horse docs since the R&D was already done.

Better yet, they have a new and improved version they intend to offer to the consumer market in 2021, NFA rules apply.

The name? Station 6. Get it (Station IX)?

Boom

More in my column at Guns.com.

The Tiger’s Everyday Carry Pocket Gun

Here we see a .32 ACP Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless self-loading pistol carried by General (later Field Marshal) Sir Gerald Templer, KG, GCB, CB, GCMG, KBE, DSO. The S/N (377681) dates to 1921 production.

UK National Army Museum NAM. 1998-01-118-2

Dubbed  “The Smiling Tiger,” Sir Gerald commanded infantry and armored divisions, as well as the German Directorate of the Special Operations Executive, during the WWII and later went on to lead British forces during the Malayan Emergency, one of the few successful counter-insurgency operations undertaken by the Western powers during the Cold War.

He was also something of a gun buff.

General Sir Gerald Templer (left) testing a .45 inch De Lisle bolt action silenced carbine during a visit to 1st Battalion The Gordon Highlanders, Perak, 1952. He may very well have a Colt in his pocket. 

The signed 1954 card in the pistol’s case reads:

“The .32 Colt revolver and ammunition, in this case, was one of about 20 purchased by me when I was GSO I (1(b)) at GHQ, BEF. It was necessary for some of my officers to/ have a small automatic in their pockets on a good many occasions. I carried this one throughout the War, and when I was High Commissioner and Director of Operations in Malaya it never left my side. It was under my pillow every night whilst I was in country, ready and cocked.”

Sir Gerald died in 1979, aged 81.

SOE made interesting for a new generation

As a fan of military history (please stop me from buying old books in bulk, it is a sickness) I have always had a soft spot for the SOE and OSS operations in WWII. Having met a few veterans of those operations in later years only increased the interest.

With that in mind, it was a no-brainer that “Churchill’s Secret Agents: The New Recruits” caught my eye on Netflix.

The premise is that they pick a group of volunteers and put them through a (modified) version of the SOE’s selection process to see if they have the intestinal fortitude for leading resistance cells across occupied Europe.

While some of it, of course, is sensationalized and the weapon training is really just a brief hover, I did find it mildly entertaining, and hopefully, it will spark renewed interest in the subject for those who seldom crack open old books.

 

A tale of two soles

Sometimes, an idea sounds so good that it just won’t go away no matter how bad it is.

Below, I give you a pair of overshoes designed for Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents operating in South East Asia during the Second World War. They were intended to disguise footprints to fool the Japanese as, if they saw a big ole European bootprint in the jungles of Burma, Indochina etc, it would give away the fact that the Allies were poking around in the rear. The soles did not work very well in practice, however, as they were still very big, and awkward to use, akin to snowshoes.

IWM EQU 12207

Fast forward to the MAC-V-SOG groups of U.S. Army SF guys working behind the lines in VC country in the 1960s and I give you boots designed to leave traces that look like footprints of peasants and to hide the movements of the teams. They proved instantly unpopular because they provided no heel support and made walking a jungle trail on your tip toes very awkward, especially when you are trying to avoid contact with unfriendlies.

You never know what is in those Danish cookie tins

When I was a little kid, my Nana, who hailed from Central Europe and never really gave up the accent among other things, used to have a love of Danish cookies. The kind that come in the little tin. Well, whenever I visited I would love to run across one of these said tins and pluck out a tasty morsel.

– Only to find they were, more often than not, filled with knickknacks, sewing supplies, or other odds and ends of grandmadom.

Well, in Denmark, it seems that you never really knew what was in gran’s attic, closet, or basement. Maybe gran’s family was in the Resistance back in the day…and kept some of the goodies just in case.

The South Jutland Police posted images to social media last week of some 25 weapons and 100 grenades turned in as part of a reprieve for those with illegal or unregistered arms, many of which may have a connection to Danish history.

Occupied by Germany during World War II, Denmark was home to a well-organized network of underground resistance units, often equipped by the Allies through the OSS and SOE. Among the weapons brought down from attics and up from under floorboards last month were STEN submachine guns, an anti-tank rocket launcher, a BREN light machine gun, and various bolt-action rifles including German Mausers.

What a cookie assortment!

Check out more in my column at Guns.com.

And don’t get too exited on that next tin of cookies.

Related: Freddie Oversteegen was 14 years old when a gentleman visited her family home in the Netherlands to ask her mother if she’d allow her daughters to join the resistance.

 

 

The ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ at work

During World War II the Allies dropped literally tons of arms and munitions to local resistance forces across occupied Europe to give the Germans a little heartburn.

Allied aircraft delivered over 20,495 containers and 11,174 packages of vital supplies to the resistance forces in western and northwestern Europe in 1944 and 1945 alone ranging from batteries and radios to guns and explosives.

Range Days in France has a great collection of various items supplied by the SOE (Special Operations Executive) and OSS (U.S. Office of Strategic Services) to French Resistance groups during World War II that is almost pristine.

(Photos: Range Days In France)

Click to big up. (Photo: Range Days In France)

The .303 Enfield is a U.S. made Savage No 4 Mk I* dropped into the Lot Valley by parachute. The STEN Mk II fell into the Gironde region with 48 rounds of 9mm ammo in a paper carton. The 250 round tin is Winchester-made .303 British ball. The canvas bag contains a BREN light machine gun replacement barrel.

More, including a detailed description of all the explosive kit, in my column at Guns.com.