CAF members visited Brock Hall, the Secret WW2 location for SOE and OSS clandestine Training. We were priviledged to be able to see the original Stars and Stripes Flag, given to the house when the US personnel departed at the end of WW2.
CAF members took our WW2 Jeep to Brock Hall for a behind the scenes tour of this historic WW2 Secret training site.
NORTHAMPTONSHIRE’S SCHOOL FOR SPIES
BROCKHALL HALL, DAVENTRY
Brockhall Hall, Brockhall, near Flore, Northants was originally built by Edward Eyton who later in 1625 sold the house to Thomas Thornton. The family were to remain for over 300 years.
In December 1940, Brockhall Hall was requisitioned by the War Department as Special Training School 1 (STS1) for the instruction and training of saboteurs, agents and special forces soldiers for the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Its first Commandant was Colonel A.T.Thornton.
The SOE was formed in July 1940 by repute on the direct instructions of Churchill as an organisation to ‘set Europe abaze’ via sabotage, espionage, liaison with Resistance organisations and assassination.
Brockhall Hall was used to teach prospective agents the dark arts of ‘ungentlemanly warfare’ and included students from all over occupied Europe- including Czech, Polish, Danish, Norwegian, French and Spanish recruits. They were taught radio craft, explosives and demolition skills, shooting and unarmed combat (Messrs Fairburn & Sykes wrote the SOE bible on unarmed combat ‘All In Fighting’ – the Museum has a copy on display - famously after each demonstration Fairburn would end – ‘then kick him in the testicles’!)
The establishment of Harrington Airfield some 13 miles away in Spring 1944 saw the USAAF have an equivalent ‘secret’ airfield to the British SOE aerodrome at RAF Tempsford, Beds. On 15th May 1944 the Office of Strategic Services (OSS- the US organisation based on SOE and forerunner of the CIA) took over Brockhall Hall with the same aims as before only with American direction.
The site was designated Country Area E and used to train their NORSO- Norwegian Special Operations Group -along with 2 French operational groups. The OSS Commander was Lt Col Serge Obolensky (AKA ‘Milton’). Harrington airfield was used to despatch these agents known as ‘Joes’ or ‘Josephines’ and three man ‘Jedburgh’ teams over Europe under the auspices of Operation Carpetbagger and they stayed at Brockhall in the days before their parachute drop. For more information on this fascinating aspect of Northamptonshire history the reader is encouraged to visit our friends at the excellent Carpetbagger Museum at Harrington airfield.
The Hall itself was vacated in 1945 and returned to the Thornton family, who in 1968 sold it for development and it was divided into flats as it remains today.
(Pictured Below- The original Flag given to the House, by the departing American Officers in 1945)
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The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is a 501 (c) 3 Texas non-profit organization dedicated to flying and restoring World War II aircraft. The organization's headquarters offices are based in Dallas, Texas, at Dallas Executive Airport. At this time the organization has more than 11,000 members and has a fleet of more than 175 World War II aircraft. CAF United Kingdom is a UK based branch of the Worldwide CAF organisation.
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