Stonehouse History Group

Welcome to the web site for Stonehouse History Group

- promoting  interest in the History of Stonehouse & the locality.

“The effects of the masterly skill of the German Intelligence Service were never physically experienced by Stonehouse residents.

In February 1943 when the raid was scheduled, the Russians were rolling back the Wehrmacht.

The German forces at Stalingrad had capitulated. Rostov and Kharkov were to be retaken by the Soviet Forces.

Marshall Stalin was to issue an order of the day saying that the Germans had suffered 9,000,000 casualties, including 4,000,000 killed, since their invasion of Russia.

It may well be that Stonehouse was spared because of the enemy’s commitments on the Eastern front.”

It was on June 6th 1950 that the Stroud News achieved a notable scoop – the discovery by Peter Evans, later Chief Reporter, of a German plan to destroy Sperry’s in 1943. Its reproduction caused another sell-out.

The explanation that accompanied the plan was printed under the headline “Blitz That Stonehouse Was Spared” was as follows.

“The Stonehouse Blitz is something which historians of the second world war will never record, for it never became an actual fact. It never passed beyond the planning stage.

It was planned for February, 1943, and the targets were to be the Sperry Gyroscope Co and Hoffmann Ltd. Just how near Stonehouse came to experience death and destruction cannot be said. The intention was there but it was never carried out.

The evidence of this projected raid is in the accompanying chart, found in the Luftwaffe headquarters in Lubeck at the end of the war. An old Wycliffian Michael Gardiner, made the discovery.

A pilot in the R.A.F., he entered Lubeck with the Allied occupying forces. In the Luftwaffe headquarters lay details of the districts on which raids were planned. Among them was one on Stonehouse, devised for February 1943.

Elsewhere were the dossiers the Germans made of British officers. They included Michael Gardiner’s and a photograph of him taken from the Wycliffe Star the school magazine.

The chart for the Stonehouse raid was sent to Mr T. S. Dixon, a Wycliffe College master, who lent it to the Stroud News for reproduction.

The aerial photograph was taken on September 12th 1940. Fifteen days before, the district had had its first bomb. – in a field near Cranham Mill, Painswick.

There was no damage. On September 5th Painswick had three or four H.E. and oil incendiary bombs nearby (the ceiling in two houses collapsed and windows in four others were broken when a delayed action bomb was exploded by sappers).

“But in broad daylight, on September twelfth a lone Donier flew slowly down the valley from Stroud.

Captain T. M. Sibley, Mr Cyril Groves and other observers on the roof of Wycliffe College saw it.

As a gesture of defiance Mr Groves raised his rifle and aimed a shot at it. The plane passed by and the photograph as illustrated was taken”.

“In close co-operation with the Luftwaffe the German Intelligence Service took a hand when the prints came to be made. Its efficiency may cause some uneasy reflections.

The detail with which the targets are marked shows the thoroughness of their espionage, although Hoffmann’s then partly in course of erection, seems to have been looked upon as an extension of Sperry’s.

The details in regard to the latter may have been secured before the war.

Two other targets were overlooked the Admiralty at Ryeford and the Air Ministry at Wycliffe College.