Department of Miscellaneous Weapons Development

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Department of Miscellaneous Weapons Development
Board of Admiralty Flag 20th Century.png
Board of Admiralty Flag
Research Department overview
JurisdictionGovernment of the United Kingdom
HeadquartersAdmiralty Building
Research Department executive
  • Director of Miscellaneous Weapons Development
Parent Research DepartmentDepartment of Admiralty

The Department of Miscellaneous Weapons Development [1] (DMWD), was a research department of the Department of Admiralty responsible for the development of various unconventional weapons during World War II.


The Department of Miscellaneous Weapons Development was a temporary wartime body which developed in 1941 from the Inspectorate of Anti-Aircraft Weapons and Devices, set up in 1940 (an office of Admiral James Somerville) [2] which was corrupted to "Instigator of Anti-Aircraft Wheezes and Dodges" to advance radar and other devices for anti-aircraft and other purposes. Charles Goodeve was responsible for its expansion from an Inspectorate and widening of its role.[3]

"Its research and experiments were carried out by officers based in universities, in research establishments, and in the directorate's own experimental establishment, HMS Birnbeck at Weston super Mare, and the Frythe at Welwyn, which it took over from the Inter-Service Research Bureau in 1945. It undertook anti-aircraft research, providing devices such as vertical rocket mountings; anti-submarine research, producing radar deflectors and decoys among other things; and amphibious assaults research, producing nets for landing craft etc. It also investigated camouflage for vessels."

"In 1944 some of its staff were detached to set up a Directorate of Admiralty Research and Development in India, which undertook liaison between the East Indies Fleet and technical Admiralty departments, and provided some scientific and technical advice. After the war the directorate amalgamated with Coastal Forces Material Department and Combined Operations Material Department to form the Craft and Amphibious Material Directorate. Responsibility for the Admiralty Experimental Station, Welwyn, was transferred to the Department of the Director of Aeronautical and Engineering Research in 1946.

Among the staff were Lieutenant-Commander N. S. Norway, RNVR (better known by his pen name, Nevil Shute); Lt-Cdr Edward Terrell RNVR, who developed plastic armour for ships and tanks and who left in late 1941 to join the First Sea Lord's staff; renowned motor racing photographer Template:Illm; and Barnes Wallis, inventor of the Upkeep dam-busting bomb.

Head of Department

Director of Miscellaneous Weapons Development


  • Captain G.O.C. Davies (known as Jock Davies), 1941-1943 who came from the Ministry of Supply.[4]
  • Captain F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, ADC, 1943-1945 who came from the Admiralty in Washington.


  1. Archives, The National. "Admiralty Miscellaneous Weapons Development Department : anti-submarine multi spigot projector". National Archives, 1941-1945, ADM 116/5256. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  2. Richardson, F. D. "Sir Charles Goodeve". University College London, reproduced from the Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society Volume 27, November 1981. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  3. Archives, The National. "Admiralty: Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapon Development: Reports and Papers". National Archives, 1940-1946, ADM 227. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  4. Terrell Admiralty Brief p107