Discover World War II London’s secrets

Spooks, Spies and Videotape is the free app that lets you uncover the secrets of London during the conflict.

If you’re interested in military history there’s a new educational smartphone app that lets you explore locations of key significance during the Second World War.

The app - Spooks, Spies and Videotape - uses your phone’s location information to help you discover nearby places, which are indicated on the map by their initials.

For example, the location BW stands for 54 Broadway, which was where the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) gathered information, while SR denotes the underground shooting range near Baker Street station.

Spooks, Spies and Videotape screenshot

Many of the locations still exist today, so you can see them from the outside if you visit London. If they don’t still exist, the app provides nuggets of fascinating information. Tap each place to discover facts, watch video - including interviews with veterans and people who used to work there - audio and images including classified documents and maps.

Spooks, Spies and Videotape interview

Locations include: 

Carlton Gardens, St James: The wartime residence of Charles de Gaulle after he fled France.

Bush House, 61 Aldwych: Wartime location of the Empire Service (now BBC World Service). Coded messages were transmitted to allies in occupied territory.

HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs: Before the war, MI5 temporarily requisitioned the prison.

Natural History Museum: The ‘Demonstration Room’ on the ground floor of the museum was used to showcase the latest gadgets – such as exploding rats – to SOE (Special Operations Executive) agents.

The app was created by charity Legasee, using funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The charity works with veterans to conserve their records, and educates people about the results of military activity.

The app is free to download for Android devices as London’s Secret WWII and for Apple iOS, where it’s called Spooks, Spies and Videotape.


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