Station XII: Aston House

Aston House near Stevenage, Hertfordshire was the home of Station XII. This was the Research and Development Centre for both SOE and Auxiliary Units. Originally located at Bletchley Park, it moved as the explosions and firing from weapons being tested wasn't conducive to the work of the code breakers they shared the house with. It had started out as part of Section D, supplying dumps of incendiaries and explosives for the Section D gfgvHome Defence Scheme. When Auxiliary Units took over this role, they continued to use Aston House to source their specialist equipment, even once it officially became part of SOE. 

In June 1940, Colonel Gubbins asked two members of the FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) for their help with a special group in the country. Volunteers Phyllis Bingham and Peggy Minchin  were employed at Aston House packing explosives and weapons for distribution to Auxuliary Units. This was the first link between FANY and  the secret forces, which continued as SOE used FANY to recruit women agents, as FANY's were allowed to be armed, unliked the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

The first Intelligence Officers in Auxiliary Units, including Captain Eustace Maxwell and Captain Harston, attended Aston House to learn how to use the supplies they provided, prior to traiing being set up at Coleshill House.

Aston House continued to provide the explosive packs for Auxiliary Units, including the Aux Units packs that came in two versions. At  the end of 1942, Storeman Richard Bignall recalled packing large numbers of A12 ammunition boxes with supplies, with two or three lorries arriving each day to take them away. The job continued through the winter.

Gradually supply for the Maquis, the French resistance, and resistance groups in other countries took over most of the available capacity, reaching a peak in 1944 around D Day.

After the war, Aston House became the Headquarters of the Stevenage New Town Development Corporation, but was demolished by them in 1961. Yeomans Drive now occupies the former site and nothing remains of the house or the wartime facilities built in its grounds.

 

Property Purpose
SOE Station
Address
Aston House near Stevenage, Hertfordshire
Location

51.8868999, -0.1533573

References

Fighting Nazi Occupation: British Resistance 1939-1945, Malcolm Atkin

SOE's Secret Weapons Centre: Station 12, Des Turner