Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Bures Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 8:38am on 23/3/14

Thank you for selecting information on the Bures Auxiliary Unit Patrol located in Essex. The info below has been compiled by Dr Will Ward CART CIO for Dorset.

Research into this patrol and its training is ongoing. The information below is published from various sources and is by no means conclusive. If information is not listed below it does not necessarily mean the information is not out there but normally means CART researchers have not found it yet.

If you have any information on this patrol or can help with research in this area please do contact us.

Lt G E Barrows was the first Group Commander, with 2/Lt Gordon Drake as his assistant. Unusually by 1944 there was only one patrol in the Bures Group, with no other nearby units in Essex (though there were others in Suffolk – Bures is close to the border). Lt G E Barrows transferred to Suffolk, thus the final Group Commander, Capt. Gordon Drake was also effectively patrol leader as well.

Not known by CART.

Name DOB Occupation   Died
Sgt. H Pat Baker Assistant slaughterman 1988
Pte. W “Fred” Smith
Pte. David Chambers
Pte. R F 'Conrad' Goldsmith
Pte. Gordon Webber
Pte. W P Twitchett         
Pte. A N Other     Gordon Drake said that he and 7 others formed the unit  

Gordon Drake owned a butcher’s shop in Bures, as well as a slaughterhouse. His father had started the business in 1909. A number of the patrol were employees of the slaughterhouse. The head slaughterman was Walter Smith and Pat Baker his assistant. Pat Baker was a keen cricketer and Honorary Secretary of the Bures club for many years. Drake, Baker, Smith and Chambers all appear in the village’s regular Home Guard records in late 1940, before they joined Aux Units.

Gordon Drake was treated at St Leonards Hospital in Sudbury for his injuries when a stray antiaircraft shell hit the slaughterhouse on October 19th 1942. One man, Reginald Drury was killed and another two, including Walter Smith, admitted to hospital. The shell was reported to have come from Colchester (9 miles away).

David Chambers was one of the Chambers brothers, best known for the H C Chambers bus company that has operated from the village since 1937.

A Fred Smith is listed in the village homecoming fund as having joined the RAF in August 1941.
David Chambers joined the RAF in September 1941, reaching the rank of Warrant Officer.

The men of the patrol are seen in the group photo on the Group overview page here

The Operational Base (OB) was originally planned to go in the grounds of Dr Woods house, as he was a leading figure in the local Home Guard (though better known for his musical arrangement of “Waltzing Matilda”!), though apparently this was felt to be too exposed to approach unnoticed. The OB was then built in the wooded grounds of Little Bevills on the edge of the village. It was described as being five feet underground and was built by the patrol. The entrance was through a trapdoor and along a tunnel. The trapdoor had 12 inches of padding to prevent it sounding hollow if stepped on. The ventilation shaft ran up inside a hollow oak tree. It was equipped with bunks, oil lamps and a Primus stove. It is reported to have contained “a quarter ton of explosives and a couple of hundred hand grenades”

Currently unknown

Normally the patrol met in Gordon Drake’s house. The patrol went to River House at nearby Earls Colne for training. Gordon Drake mentioned going to Wiltshire, so he almost certainly went to Coleshill House.

The patrol would generally have the weapons shown here

The patrol had .38 revolvers and fighting knives. They were equipped with large quantities of explosives.

In around 1957 or 1958, Mr Utting, who then was a teenage friend of Gordon Drake’s son, visited to find them both cutting length of cordite fuse and burning them on a fire. Mr Drake was also taking apart some WD issue single ball shotgun cartridges to dispose of these as well. He explained that the supplies were accidently left behind when the Army had cleared the OB at the end of the war. He told Mr Utting a little about the unit and his son elaborated on the details of the bunker later. For many years he had thought he was exaggerating the details, though all appear consistent with what we know of other OBs elsewhere.

After the release of “The Last Ditch” in 1968, which named Mr Drake, a well known figure in the area, he was interviewed for the Essex County Standard. Even then, he appears to have kept his cards close to his chest. See the interview here http://www.bures.me.uk/secret/secret1.htm

Nominal Roll in NA file WO 199/3899

http://www.bures.me.uk/secret.htm

http://www.bures.me.uk/LDV.htm

General biographical information from multiple pages at www.bures.me.uk

Correspondence with W R Utting, former resident of Bures

http://www.foxearth.org.uk/1942-1943SuffolkFreePress.html

http://www.burescricketclub.co.uk/guestbook.htm