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Aviemore SOE School

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During World War II, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) utilised the area of Aviemore as a Special Training School.

STS26 occupied an area including three requisitioned lodges: Drumintoul, Glenmore and Forest, chosen for the training of Norwegian agents "because of the reasonable similarity of terrain – mountains, lochs, high passes, and snow in quantity in the winter months". Records from January 1943, indicate that some 400 Norwegians travelled to the area for training in mountain warfare, while British agents were also taught how to ski.

The facility was used for training prior to the raid on the heavy water facility at the Norwegian Hydro Electric plant at Vemork, known as Operation Grouse, and later depicted in The Heroes of Telemark, a film which has become notable for its less than accurate portrayal of the people and events concerned.

Evidence of the school's activities in the area is still reported by walkers, in the form of stone shelters that were built on the plateaus.

Drumintoul Lodge lies some two miles east of Aviemore, in the foothills of the Cairngorms. Originally built as a Victorian hunting lodge in 1878, with four public rooms, twelve family rooms, eight servants rooms and a tennis lawn. The lodge lies within an ancient pine forest in the Rothiemurchus Estate, with its own small loch to the south east, and is let for holiday accommodation.

Glenmore Lodge lies some six miles east of Aviemore, and was formerly a Victorian hunting lodge, and became a hostel when the Central Council for Physical Education acquired it in 1947. It later became the Loch Morlich Youth Hostel, and then the Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel, after Scotland's National Outdoor Training Centre was opened in 1996, within the Cairngorm National Park, and was named Glenmore. In 1973, in a ceremony attended by the King of Norway, the Norwegian Memorial Stone was dedicated to the memory of those who had trained in the area, and lost their lives in World War II.

Forest Lodge lies some eight miles east and to the north of Aviemore, in Abernethy Forest. Built in 1880, it is the largest remaining Victorian timber-clad shooting lodge in Scotland. Fire has caused the loss of many similarly constructed wooden lodges, with the building's insulation of sawdust providing an additional hazard. The lodge is now used by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), who own and manage Abernethy Forest.

King Haakon at Glenmore, contributed pic and text
King Haakon at Glenmore

The following description accompanied the picture of King Haakon:

Picture taken at STS26, Glenmore Lodge, during a demonstration by Kompani Linge for the Norwegian King Haakon 7th, and Crown Prince Olav, Norwegian Minister of Defence during World War II and later King of Norway. The 'dead' German soldier between the railroad tracks had been rendered harmless and an explosive charge placed. The saboteur had crawled up on the hill on the left from a position just behind where King Haakon is standing, second from the left, then jumped off the hill at the German sentry and killed him with the Japanese hadaka-jime strangle.

- (Believed to public domain as probably MoD original. Please contact us with details if otherwise).

The existence of the training school was to have a lasting effect on the area. After the war had ended, many of those who had been trained wanted to continue skiing. Areas such as Newtonmore and Aviemore were easy to reach by train, and, despite the long walk, Coire Cas in the Cairngorms was a popular destination. In 1947 the Central Council for Physical Education acquired Glenmore Lodge and skiing courses were offered. As the number of skiers heading for Coire Cas grew, Inverness County Council agreed to build an access road to the ski slopes, and the first chair lift opened in 1961.

BBC - Britain article features SOE training Schools

In January 2017 the BBC ran a story on STS 26 and the Vemork raid, including interviews with surviving members of the team involved, then into their 90s.[1]

This was part of BBC Britain a series focused on exploring what it describes as 'this extraordinary island, one story at a time'.

Those outside the UK (but NOT inside) may access the site from the BBC - Britain web site.[2]



1 BBC - Future - The surprising place where WWII agents learnt to fight Nazis Retrieved January 18, 2017.

2 BBC - Britain Retrieved January 18, 2017.

3 BBC - Future - The surprising place where WWII agents learnt to fight Nazis Retrieved January 18, 2017.


Drumintoul Lodge, courtesy of Highland Council web site
Drumintoul Lodge
Glenmore Lodge, Loch Morlich Youth Hostel
Glenmore Lodge, later Loch Morlich Youth Hostel, then
Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel © Stephen Craven
Norwegian Memorial
Norwegian Memorial
© Richard Webb
Forest Lodge
Forest Lodge (Rear!)
© Crown Copyright
Buildings at Forest Lodge
Buildings at Forest Lodge
© Richard Webb

External links

Aerial views



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