The Welrod Gun Was Silent and Deadly

The suppressed pistol was a favorite of World War II commandos

The Welrod Gun Was Silent and Deadly The Welrod Gun Was Silent and Deadly
In the world of covert operations, silence equals deadliness. World War II was the first modern war that emphasized special operations, creating a demand... The Welrod Gun Was Silent and Deadly

In the world of covert operations, silence equals deadliness.

World War II was the first modern war that emphasized special operations, creating a demand for suppressed weapons.  Commandos and special forces attached to the British Special Operations Executive and the American Office of Strategic Services wanted a pistol to fire a round with a sound no louder than a whisper.

They got what they were looking for with the Welrod.

The Welrod is an assassin’s weapon, pure and simple. It’s a bolt-action pistol built around an integral suppressor, and the suppressor has a hollowed out nose cap to minimize back blast so the muzzle can be pressed into the target – such as the back of the head or neck.

The Welrod comes in two versions. The Mark I is about 14 inches long, weighs 52 ounces once assembled, and has a single-stack magazine that holds six rounds. British operators favored this weapon, and rumor says it was still in the arsenal of the SAS during Operation Desert Storm.

welrod

The Welrod. Wolcott/Wikimedia photo

 

The Mark II is smaller – less than 12 inches long – and easier to hide. It holds eight rounds, and it was a favorite of European resistance groups, one of the reasons why the British produced more than 14,000 of the pistols.

Chambered in both nine-millimeter Parabellum (Mark I) and .32-caliber ACP (Mark II), the Welrod could fire the commonly used pistol ammunition of the Axis powers. Both were the perfect clandestine weapons for the underground in Europe and Asia. In fact, when disassembled, the Welrod bore an uncanny resemblance to a bicycle pump rather than a firearm.

There is even evidence that the Allies intended for commandos and resistance fighters to use the pistols in targeted killings before D-Day. In an effort to create mayhem that would cripple the logistics and intelligence efforts of the occupying German force in France, Britain’s MI-6 developed in 1944 a secret “hit list” of key German personnel.

According to Sky News:

The targets included senior Gestapo officers in France as well as logistics experts considered vital to the movements of the German troops who would confront the Allied invasion force, files released by the National Archives show.
 
The list was prepared at the request of officers in the headquarters of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Allied commander in charge of the Operation Overlord landings on the Normandy beaches.
 
But the plan was dropped less than a month before D-Day amid concerns about its legality and fears that it would lead to reprisals against Allied prisoners of war being held by the Germans.

At the same time MI-6 developed its “Assassination Priorities for Overlord,” its direct action staff ordered additional Welrods. It’s a safe bet the British Secret Intelligence Service intended the weapons for something other than grouse hunting.

As for the source of the name, “Welrod” is a combination of Welwyn Garden City, the British location of the Inter-Services Research Bureau that developed weapons for the SOE, and the word “rod” that was a slang term for “pistol” commonly used in crime novels of the era.

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