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St Albans had an important role in secret operations work during the Second World War.  It was the perfect location, close to London, yet designated a ‘safe’ area unlikely to suffer from air raids. Good radio reception made it ideal for broadcasting coded messages and setting up listening posts.

Special Operations Executive Station XI at Gorhambury House transmitted coded messages to countries in occupied Europe.


Glenalmond House on King Harry Lane became the base for the SIS (the special or secret intelligence service) Section V, part of MI6. By 1942 there were 24 staff gathering information about German spies and their organisations.

When Section V returned to London in 1943, Glenalmond became a centre for training 120 French resistance workers in advance of the D- Day landings. Training included enemy recognition, gun handling, grenade throwing and even night-time map reading!

Local factories played a major role in helping secret operations. Marconi took over space in the Ballito factory to produce radar equipment and components.

Activity: Code breaker

Morse code uses dots, dashes and spaces to represent letters numbers and symbols.

Can you write your own message using morse code? You could even  send it with long and short flashes of light or sounds!

morse code

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