Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Alethorpe Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base.

This page was last updated at 12:20 pm on 23/12/12

Thank you for selecting information on the Alethorpe Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Norfolk. The info and images below have been supplied by Aux researchers Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye.

The patrol formed part of Norfolk Group 11 which also included

Walsingham patrol, Thursford patrol Cley patrol and Blakeney patrol

CO Lt LN Brock

It is currently unknown when the patrol was formed.

2nd Sgt JE Taylor
Sgt Guy Savory
Cpl Cedric Thistleton-Smith (farmer and landowner – see Other Information) *
Alec Newstead (farm worker)
Charles Cornwall
John Burgess
? Alec Savory (brother of Guy)

Situated in the grounds of Alethorpe Hall.

The OB is located on private land and was accessed by kind permission of the owner.

Alethorpe Auxiliary Unit OB 1

 

 

The OB is situated on the edge of a copse, locally known as Alethorpe Wood. There are, however, a number of other small woodlands in this area (presumably all having formed part of a much larger woodland, centuries ago), all of which are known as Alethorpe Wood.

The copse is located in the grounds of Alethorpe Hall, near Snoring airfield. It is surrounded by fields on three sides and is skirted by a farm track running past a paddock that adjoins the Hall in the north. The copse is not marked on OS maps.

 

 

 

 

Alethorpe Auxiliary Unit OB 2

The main chamber including one end wall are intact, the end wall nr exit deteriorated. The OB size is 4.20m x 3m and it is orientated N/S – 160ft ASL.

The entrance shaft or passage (south-facing) has collapsed, emergency exit passage (collapsed) appears to have been about 6m long, emerging in ditch or gully.

At the time of our visit (beginning of August 2011) the site was much overgrown, mainly with ivy.

The main chamber was dug into level ground near the edge of a copse (Alethorpe Wood – note that a number of small woodlands and copses in this area are called ‘Alethorpe Wood’!) to the north of Alethorpe Hall. A farm track leads past the woodland’s southern edge. There is a pasture on the other side of this track and the pasture adjoins barns by Alethorpe Hall.

Alethorpe Auxiliary Unit OB 3

(Above) The main chamber (missing one end wall but otherwise intact) was constructed from corrugated sheets held in place by a wooden frame, with a roof of curved corrugated iron sheets. Due to the deterioration of the wall near the entrance and also to the exposed doorway at the exit end, and the subsequent backfill with sand from both ends which has considerably raised the floor level within the main chamber, we failed to establish whether it rested on a base or was placed directly on the ground.

Corrugated sheets, painted white, were used as end walls.

Alethorpe Auxiliary Unit OB 4

(Above) The end wall near the entrance (south) appears to be missing. Sandy soil has trickled in, filling this end of the main chamber to a height that almost reaches the roof.

Alethorpe Auxiliary Unit OB 5The north wall is still in place. It has a doorway with a crude wooden frame, made from wooden 75mm square timbers (painted white). Two 40-gallon drums each side of the exit doorway have been placed with their long sides against the chamber’s walls – presumably these drums represent the 200-gallon ‘water tank’ mentioned by patrol member Alec Newstead (in: A Hoare).

Just outside and above the (exit) end wall a large ceramic pipe emerges from the ground, presumably serving as a vent. No pipe was found on the opposite side.

Leading away from the exit doorway there is an approximately 6m long depression in the ground, denoting the course of the emergency exit tunnel which appears to have collapsed. It leads in northerly direction and appears to end near a wooden strainer post that emerges from the ground, horizontally across it. A long nail is sticking out of its end. We were wondering whether the post and long nail once formed part of the booby trap mentioned by Alec Newstead (in: A Hoare, Standing up to Hitler, 2002).
We found an old pitchfork underneath the creeping ivy that covers the thick layer of soil on top of the main chamber’s roof, close to the emergency exit. The upper section of its steel handle is wrapped with grey duct tape.

Alethorpe Auxiliary Unit OB 6

Other physical remains: Large ceramic field (drain pipe); four 40-gallon drums; wooden strainer post with long nail; pitch fork with handle wrapped with grey duct tape

According to patrol member Pte Alec Newstead (in: A Hoare, Standing up to Hitler, 2002) the OB was built by Royal Engineers and contained 4 bunks, a 200 gallon water tank, calor gas for heat and light and about 40 lbs explosives, time pencils etc.

 

 

Observation Post/s: Currently unknown

Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway line.
From mid-1943: Snoring aerodrome.  Completed in summer 1943, it served as a base for Avro Lancaster IIs and de Havilland Mosquitos.

Training mostly by regular soldiers at Leicester Square Farm, Syderstone. Pistol training at Walsingham. (Info from patrol member Alec Newstead, published in: A Hoare, “Standing up to Hitler”, 2002)

Sten or Thompson submachine guns, Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knives and .38 revolvers plus a variety of explosives, detonators and fuses would have been standard issue.

 * In the 1940s, Alethorpe Hall was owned and farmed by patrol member Cpl John Cedric Thistleton-Smith. He was born on 10th May 1910 in Norwich and died in March 1998 in Fakenham. Thistleton-Smith was a member of the cricket team from 1930 to 1951, playing for Norfolk in many matches of the Minor Counties Championship

Alethorpe (alternative spelling: Ailthorpe) is one of Norfolk’s lost medieval villages, located within the parish of Little Snoring.


A Hoare, Standing up to Hitler (2002); Cricket Archive; Mr and Mrs Hancock, Alethorpe Hall (personal interview), Jeremy Norman; John George Seaman (leader of Baconsthorpe Patrol, died June 2011)
 

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