British letter: SMGs and ammo from Sweden-July 1944


#1

While going through my files for the Kynoch box thread, I ran across a copy of this letter. Does anyone have any idea what it is actually about???

Who is SPEX?

Where were they sending the guns and why???

Interesting letter.

Cheers,
Lew


#2

I have no idea whether the name is based on a real person, but the 2008 film “Flame & Citron”, has a character named Spex, who is a Danish Army Intelligence officer commanding some resistance fighters in Denmark during German occupation:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flame_%26_Citron


#3

Lew, I found this telegram in the CIA archives, but I’m afraid that they are incomplete and is almost impossible to understand the full story. Here is the previous discussion on this subject: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=14911

This is the next telegram in the series:


#4

Lew,

Your letter is interesting in many ways, not least because it poses more questions than it provides answers.

The reply to the original message implies that, although the Suomi’s are being dispatched from Sweden, the ammunition is coming from elsewhere “by air” using the Diplomatic Bag, the use of which also implies that there are still diplomatic relations with Britain and America with whatever country was involved.

The Diplomatic Bag is meant to be inviolable through international treaty, neither the country it is being sent to, or those it transits through are meant to open it. I suppose one way that what is brought into a country without actually checking contents it to only allow bags up to a certain weight, hence the relatively small amount of ammunition sent each time and maybe an explanation for the items being listed by weight in Fede’s letter.

Reading “Hope also send ten thousand rounds per month via Sweden with guns” to me means that the ammunition is being sourced from outside Sweden and send there, presumably by Diplomatic Bag or Pouch. But this " … original War Department cartons of 50 rounds each … " is an oddity. Britain had a War Department until the 1850’s when its name was changed to the War Office and it was called this until the 1960’s. It is the United States that had a Department of War so calling it "War Department’ is a bit of an oddity, maybe a mistake made by someone used to a “War Office” referring to an American source but erroneously using the same order of words as in Britain.

These are diplomatic telegrams where brevity must live alongside conciseness and where misunderstandings are definitely to be avoided.

Throughout World War 2 there were direct flights between Britain and Sweden, first run using Lockheed Electras and latterly with de Havilland Mosquitos, both operated by BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) … a civilian airline as any military aeroplanes landing in Sweden would have been interned, a strict requirement to keep neutral status. These flights were used to bring back Swedish ball bearings which, at the time were superior to those produced elsewhere. There were also fast motor-boats used on blockage breaking runs between Britain and Sweden.

I think there’s a lot more digging to be done here.

Peter


#5

Interesting to see both docs shown above are dated 12th of July 1944.


#6

Fede, amazing find!

Sounds like the US and the Brits were plotting to get arms and ammo to somebody via Sweden, which would imply it is most likely Norway or Denmark. Anywhere else that needed them in July 44 would be tough from Sweden.

DK, I wonder where they got the agents name from in the movie!!!

Peter, you are right, 50rd boxes in '44 wouldn’t be British made ammo. Could be some of that stuff that was bought early in the war and wound up with the Home Guard, or the White US made boxes by WRA. I have been told by Danish collectors that there is quite a bit of British WWII production 9mm that was dropped in Denmark by the RAF toward the end of the war.

Must be more to the story out there somewhere.

I wonder what CREEP Operations are and who is Apollo???

Cheers,
Lew


#7

Actually “War Department” was the correct name of the federal cabinet-level agency charged with responsibility for the U.S. Army from 1789 until after the Second World War. Jack


#8

Jack is correct about the US War Department. If not official, it was certainly used in normal speech for more than 200 years. Finding the term in a 1944 document is entirely in context.

If you are going to investigate CREEP, you must filter out all the leads to Pres. Nixon & Watergate. CREEP there was the Committee to RE-Elect the President.


#9

The last telegram does say the goods is to be delivered to Denmark. In a book I have about weapons used by the norwegian army 1859 - present, there’s a page about the swedish Husqvarna Kpist 37-39. After WW2 the norwegian armed forces had about 3100 of these SMG’s. Four variations are found. Among these are two “Neutral” or unmarked versions. These doesn’t have the Husqvarna markings, only serialnumbers. One version has a N prefix before the serialnumber, and the other have no prefix. These neutral “Suomi smg’s” were supplied to norwegian and danish resistance movements by the swedish secret service. My guess is that since the swedes didn’t want the guns to have any swedish markings, they didn’t want to supply swedish ammo either. So the ammo had to come from the allies.
There was a similar neutral version of the Husqvarna M/40 pistol as well.

PS.
The ammo is obviously entering Sweden in diplomatic bags to keep it secret. The swedish secret service, and the army too, had operations going on that the politicians didn’t know about. Usually ammo and suplies for the resistance were dropped by parachute, so these guns and ammo were maybe intented for some special group and not the “ordinary” resistance?

PPS.
Spex is actually a word in the danish languange, derived from “spectaculum” (latin) meaning an act or play.
In dansh the meaning of spex is: a comedy or parody.
ordnet.dk/ddo/ordbog?query=spex

PPPS.
I took a look at a danish gunforum. Here’s a thread about anonymous boxes for Suomi smg’s secretly suplied from Sweden.
nordisk-forum.dk/viewtopic.p … =husqvarna


#10

Interesting documents.
Wartime 9mm is still turning up from time to time, benefiting my collection as well as others. Nearly all the variants of both “Air-Mail-Ammo” (i.e. dropped by SOE for the resistance) exists in collections here, as well as ‘Brigade’ surplus finding its way to the home guard and regular army units after the war. The Suomi SMGs were eventually delivered by coasters (M/S Vanjan was one) and fishing boats, packed in anonymous crates so not to raise any suspicion.
The box shown in the Nordisk Forum (NVF) thread were judged as a home made item, not an official box.
The meaning of the word ‘SPEX’ is correct, except it was more of a swedish word than danish. The swedish meaning coming from ‘spektakulär’ = exceptional, spectacular.
Swedish use is mostly in connection with fraternities etc.
I have had a look in the one book on the danish resistance contacts in England via Sweden I have, but the cover name ‘spex’ is not mentioned.
Soren


#11

Amazing thread.

thanks everyone.

Soren
It would be very nice if you could post a listing or photos of all this “Brigade” and “Air-mail-ammo” for those of us who wonder what & how many variations were used?

Might also be a nice article for the IAA or ECRA journals?


#12

Of course this sort of thing still happens now. When the Iraqi Embassy in London was re-opened after the fall of Saddam Hussein, there were some safes that had been locked since before it closed. The new ambassador hired professional safe crackers to open them. One of the safes was found to contain pistols, silencers, SMGs and ammunition, along with listening devices.

Unfortunately I don’t have any more details on what the guns or ammunition were. Tony Edwards may well have been asked for assistance in identifying it at the time, but we’ll never know now.


#13

One more bit of information. Very early in the War, the UK was buying 9mm Para ammunition from where ever they could find it in quantity. The box below is an example of this ammunition.

The first box of this type I received from a very well known collector in Kent whose Father, an officer in the local Home Guard unit, carried a Sten and ammunition with this headstamp. Later in the war, there is a note in a British small arms manual withdrawing this ammunition and other similar ammunition from use.

This ammunition was made by DWM and the bullet base is stamped with a DWM number. The box has the traditional DWM orange tissue cover and the label is green. The headstamp apparently stands for Guardia Bolivia and this ammunition was probably made for Bolivia during the Chaco War of 1932-1935. Most of the other ammunition from this early WWII procurement was clearly made for the combatants of the Chaco War.

So mid-WWII Britain had ammunition in 50 round boxes which was not obviously British and which was available for this type if clandestine use. What is interesting are the stamps on the box label. These are typical of ammunition in the early post war years that had to have the country of origin clearly marked before it could be imported into the US for commercial sale. It is very possible that this box was part of one of the Swedish Secret Service shipments into Denmark. It makes sense since the Swedes were clearly covering the origin of the arms (see BMFs PPPS link above) and would not have wanted Swedish ammunition, and probably not ammunition that was obviously US or British. Old German made ammunition would have fit well.

Thanks to everyone for the great information and analysis you have provided. Another win for the IAA Forum!!!

Cheers,
Lew


#14

It is interesting they are talking about ammo shipments in the tens of thousands via the diplomatic bag! It is also interesting that they speak of such matters so openly because I though diplomatic bags were supposed to be strictly off limits for such things.


#15

I suspect that “diplomatic bag” was really just the flights flown mentioned by enfield56 above. I know that ammo sometimes moves by diplomatic bag, but you make a good point, 10K rounds is a lot for my image of a diplomatic bag. For all I know the term includes protected shipments of sensitive material. All embassies, well most, have equipment in them that sure does not come through customs.

Others know a lot more than I do. Perhaps they will tell us what really constitutes a diplomatic bag.

Cheers,
Lew


#16

The Diplomatic Bag was originally a pouch or document case and was used so that the home government could send secret documents to its embassies overseas. When things got more complicated and embassies or delegations abroad needed more bulky thing, such as coding machines, then the pouch grew into whatever was required to move the items.

My student daughter has a Diplomatic Bag for keeping her laundry in, it’s a stout canvas bag, printed on the side “HBM Diplomatic Service” with a strong rope drawstring at the open end to secure it, this would have been fitted with wax or lead seals to prevent or indicate attempts at opening it. In reality, the Bag could be a shipping container if the sending government can persuade the State it’s destined for that the contents are required by it’s Embassy, Legation or whatever.

Peter