Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Chalton Auxiliary Unit

Auxiliary Unit - Chalton

A report by Steve Mason for CART . If you can help with any info please contact hq@coleshillhouse.com

This page last updated at 7:05pm on 7/2/13

Chalton Patrol Map

(1919 Map of East Hampshire / West Sussex border area. Thanks to Ordnance Survey.)

Auxiliary Patrol: Chalton - near Petersfield and Clanfield, East Hampshire area.
Patrol codename: currently unknown.

Before 2011 slight evidence indicated a patrol in Chalton somewhere in Hampshire. But, because at least two Chaltons exist in the county, deciding which was significant was not possible, until CART visited the British Resistance Museum in Parham, Suffolk. The BRM kindly allowed us to view all documents they held on Hampshire Auxiliary Units and, not only did we find a cluster of auxiliers living in Chalton near Petersfield in East Hampshire, we also discovered a memoir written by a patrol member.  Unusually, this memoir allowed us to appreciate, and show in the map above, just how sizeable an area one patrol could cover.

The following extracts are from Mr John Budden’s memoir of Chalton Patrol activities (see References, below).  He gives the patrol time frame from “…late 1941 to 1944.” But the list of members (below) shows that at least half the Chalton men joined the Auxiliary Units in the middle months of 1940, and so Chalton Patrol may actually have been inaugurated then. “The story started with a Home Guard meeting in the old Drill Hall, HORNDEAN [see map: orange circle]. Most of the Chalton Home Guard were there. Mr. Donald Brownlee had obviously been informed of the Proposal to handpick 3 sections of 7 men, each to work on secret missions, completely separate from H.G. [Home Guard] work.”

 Note: Mr Brownlee also inaugurated the Havant West patrol (See their patrol report). It is likely that he was a Group leader for (at least, if not more than) those patrols straddling the line of the A3 to Petersfield, along the East Hampshire / West Sussex border (map: red crosses). Indeed, Mr Brownlee seems almost to have fulfilled much of the role usually attributed to a county Intelligence Officer, but is not clear if he had that post before the known east Hampshire I.O., Captain E. B. Clive (later rank: Major); who was in that post, at least as early as 1942 (source: the Nominal Roll; see References, below). 

Certain, John Budden. “The six men with myself, a small unit working under great secrety, were to have an underground hideout.” “I myself was, as it were 'demoted' from S.M. to Sergeant, being a farmer & not an 'army man!” These two quotes indicate that Mr Budden was probably the patrol leader. However, while W.G Budden is listed (below, and) in the Nominal Roll, Mr John Budden does not appear on the copies held by CART.

The following are the entries found in the Nominal Roll, with research notes on discrepancies, etc, given in [ ]. Exact addresses have been removed by CART.

 Name

 Nat Reg

 Joined

DOB 

Address 

Bryant H.L EBBN 97/1 24/09/41 12/04/12 ******** Farm, Chalton [note: just north-east of Chalton church]
Buckle R.J EEA [unreadable] 20/01/43 30/04/21 P..? [unreadable] Chalton - Transferred 3rd Hants Bn HG 23/08/43
Buckle E EEPC 24/3 05/07/40 31/08/19 ? [unreadable] ?Chalton - Posted 16th Hants Bn HG 02/06/44
Budden W.G EEPK 58/1 08/07/40 30/01/13 ** Chalton, Portsmouth
Harfield W.A EBBM 163/4 24/09/41 10/08/22 ********** Farm, Charlton Hants
Harfield W.C EBBM 163/1 24/09/41 10/11/86 ******* Farm [note: traces of “******* farm…” with indication showing this entry is joined to the Harfield W.A ?entry by a “ } ” pointing to the word “Hants” for both Harfileds. W.C Harfield has a red line through, usually believed to denote deceased, poss Killed In Action. Also after address entry; “ ?Bied [?died] 23/11/43 A.F.B. 2090 to liverpool 10/01/44.”
Lavender ?j,f or g EKOF 2/1 06/06/40 13/10/08 Chalton, Nr Portsmouth
Lawrence W.G ENDN 9/1 29/01/44 03/05/06 **, Charlton, Nr Portsmouth [note: Chalton is this time spelt with an R, just as John Budden spells it in his memoir]
Leek L EBKY 6/1 21/06/42 05/05/01 A House, Chalton, Hants
MacLean A.C EEPK 64/4 30/05/40 04/09/03 A Cottage, Chalton, Hants
Wildes R.W EEPK 62/1 02/06/40 01/02/85 A House, Chalton, Hants

Note: Several interesting aggregations exist in the above list: (1) Both W. Budden and W. Lawrence live at Number **, Chalton; (2) H. Bryant and both the Harfields all live at *********** Farm; and (3) the Buckles probably lived in the same house (details unreadable). Some of these may well have been agricultural labourers lodging with other farming families. (People with these occupations were excused regular army enlistment.)

Additional members might have been: 

 Name

 Nat Reg

Joined

DOB 

Address

Creswell W      EEPK 55/1       10/06/40 28/12/00 Windmill Hill, Clanfield, Hants [note: see Observatioon Posts, below.]


Chalton Park, built into a Lynchet
[We] “…were to have an underground hideout, located in Chalton Park which was in 1941 28 acres in extent with a predominance of large beech trees as well as oak, ash, the older beech were round about 150 years old, and therefore in places little or no undergrowth. There were also several large "LYNCHETTS" running E. to W., certainly of Roman date. It was on the NEGATIVE (or downhill) side of one of these that the Army chose to dig & insert a hide, approx. size (in notes to follow). They dug down about 8 ft. which was between 6&7 feet into hard chalk, the chalk was not carted away, but wheeled along & spread against the Lynchet bank having first collected the leaves & leaf mold & some topsoil from the bank which still stood 5 ft. high. The leaves collected were stockpiled to be used as camouflage after the hide was completed"

About 12 soldiers completed the Job in about two days, nobody knew what was being done such was the secretcy. The sides & roof were constructed of fairly heavy galvanised iron, with timbers of 2 by 4 deal, there were 4 air vents from near the floor level, care fully camouflaged at the top. The entry was by a trap door about 20 ins. square, covered with leaves and rubbish.

After we were introduced to our abode, we found many improvements which could be introduced. [Number 1 job] …was to cover the floor with duckboards, the next was to search the woods for the stump of a dead oak which when cut straight at ground level, would be big enough to comfortably cover the trap door which was to the underside of the knarled log, next, the now very heavy trap had to be counter balanced by a system of thin steel wire & pulleys, so that the whole contrivance could be lifted with one finger, high enough for personal to get into or out of the pit which had a short ladder down into it. If no disturbance was created round the block of dead timber bolted to the now free lifting trap.
We had to be very careful not to make any regular tracks of footmarks which might give away our position."

Observation Post/s:
None reported or yet known for certain. However, because Mr Budden confuses OB with OP throughout his memoir it is possible that he was at least familiar with the concept (as it was known nationally to almost all other patrols – a camouflaged slit trench approx 200 to 400 yards from the OB, with a line telephone to the latter; see also, Weapons & Equipment, below). A possible outlying – secondary – OP could have been the windmill on Windmill Hill (a very high location – map: black circle – overlooking Chalton and Clanfield and a long length of both the A3 and the railway line mentioned in Patrol Targets, below). This is likely, due to possible patrol member Mr W. Cresswell (see Members, above) living on Windmill Hill; and there is (currently, and probably during the war) only one house there adjacent to the old windmill.

  • Railway line – South to Havant and Portsmouth Docks; north – to Petersfield, London and all places north. The patrol practiced setting their explosives on train tracks in an old quarry (see Training, below), so it can be fairly assumed that this nearby railway was a general target (map: southern yellow cross).
  • Railway tunnel – on the line described above. The southern tunnel entrance between Chalton and Buriton if collapsed with explosives would cause significant delay to any German effort to advance their troops into England rapidly by train from the southern landing beaches (map: northern yellow cross).
  • A3 trunk road – arterial route from southern landing beaches, and Portsmouth deep-water docks, via Waterloovile, Horndean (map: southern red cross) and on towards Petersfield (map: above northern red cross) and London and all points north).
  • The ‘C’ Road from Buriton to Finchdean village and on to Rowlands Castle (map: blue cross). Such a small road, while it might seem an unlikely target, would nonetheless have become a valuable route for the enemy if Chalton Patrol and others were interdicting the larger roads (like the nearby A3) and the railway, successfully. Indeed, Stanstead Patrol, nearby in West Sussex, had NO large roads through their immediate zone, and would therefore have been targeting the mass of minor roads that they could easily reach, with exactly this reasoning in mind.

"We visited our 0.P. (that is what it was called) several even­ings a week, on several occasions we spent all night down below, sometimes in and out on some exercise, mostly concerning explosives, on one or two nights blowing up rail lines in the old chalk pit at Buriton village [map: blue circle], problems arose on one such visit when the German bombers dropped incendiaries & what we called "clapper" bombs, scores of them over fields etc. about ½ to l ½ miles from us. All available police, specials, air raid wardens & others were sent from Petersfield to try & deal with the menace. The trouble came when our innocent unit between II&I2 PM. set off two or three bangs of 10 to 12 lbs. each, & detonated several of the so called clapper bombs to the great consternation of the police etc. particularly the specials & ARP. who made for home in the darkness.

Several police came to Chalton village next morning, somewhat annoyed. When they found me, many questions were asked but none were answered, all I could do was to refer them to the regular army in the shape of the Warwickshires about 2- miles away. We were not allowed to give anything away, where we had been how & why. We never knew what other units were doing.”

 “We made two or three visits to a farmhouse at Lovedean where a Mr Sawtell was the farmer & had a good deal to do with our units, together with the above mentioned Mr. Donald Brownlee. I remember sitting with my patrol in a hayloft waiting for the midnight hour before setting out on an exercise in that vicinity [map: red circle, very approximately].

On another occasion three or four units were to meet in a quiet... downland valley, where several German captured war machines were assembled, (tanks & artillery) upon which we were let loose, to give us first hand experience as to how & where these modern enemy machines, could be secretly approached in darkness etc... [and] possibly dealt with.”

 Note: Mr Sawtell was also reported by Sydney Adlam (auxilier of Havant West Patrol) to have been significant to his patrol as an officer (2nd Lieutenant). Thus, as Sawtell was also significant to Chalton Patrol, it is likely that he was either Group Leader or second in command (after Mr Brownlee) for the patrols astride the A3 and the Havant to Petersfield railway.

 “On another occasion our Charlton North were heading East into Sussex on a Sunday morning, we accidentally met about a dozen regular Home Guards making for Church Parade in the local Church Idsworth [map: near blue cross]. We were dressed in denims, dirty & untidy. I was told later we looked like a pack of Ragbags, this was one of the least of our worries.

At a later date our unit went into Beechwoods at Rowlands Castle [map: pink circle] with the idea of shooting Grey squirrels out of the high trees with our .38 calibre revolvers.”

 Notes:

a)        The above reference to “our Charlton North” implies that there was another Chalton patrol; perhaps a Chalton South?

b)       The comment about moving in the Beechwoods at Rowlands Castle, gives some indication as to the range a patrol could cover, as these woods are several miles from the Chalton OB, and it is also in the territory of the Stanstead patrol just over the border into West Sussex.

c)        Shooting practice. Although Chalton Patrol may have used Buriton Chalk Pit for weapons training, as Mr Budden reports they did for explosives training, it is possible they may have also used the same valley that Sydney Adlam’s Havant – west Patrol (see here) used on nearby Butser Hill (map: green circle) for target practice. 

“Two or three of our unit were taken to a location near Highworth on a long weekend course, where they met heads of other units, (We travelled to the above rendezvous in an army pickup truck driven by a soldier of the Warwickshires) mostly with the rank of 'Sergeant' (although this meant little) I myself was, as it were 'demoted' from S.M. to Seargeant, being a farmer & not an 'army' man.!”

“Going back to the long weekend at Highworth near Swindon, it was interesting that there we met members of units the same as ours, who were from all along the South Coast, also the Southeast & many from all up the East Coast, several from Scotland & 2 or three from Wales. At about 8.30 AM a general muster was called, before setting out in small numbers each with a regular Sergeant in charge, on various practice movements, such as woodcraft, camouflage, in other words movement without detection in woods and undergrowth.”

[We were] “…Under the guidance of the Warwickshire Reg [as these] …regulars we were answerable to at that time, [which] were based at Bishops Waltham.”

Also note the reference in the training section above to Mr Budden’s reference to “the Warwickshires about 2 miles away”. This may be a scout section, possibly billeted at Horndean (map: orange circle) or Petersfield (map: beyond northern edge, up A3 road).

“We had enough explosives & assorted materials stored in our so called Observation Post to deal effectively with almost any job in band, I think dealing with the destruction or disabling of enemy machines would have been unthinkable without the Time Delay (Pencils) which covered-delayed explosions from 15 mins. up to 3 or 4 days. We had in our hide as much as I cwt of explosive, not all of one variety Plastic-808 Gelignite-Guncotton etc.”

a) John Budden memoir. All information in “ “ above come from this typewritten account of the Chalton Patrol. Unless otherwise stated, all other details are also from that memoir. Copy held at Parham British Resistance Museum and CART archive.

b) The Nominal Roll; held at The National Archives, at Kew. Copies supplied by Will Ward, now held in the CART archive.

If you can help with any info please contact hq@coleshillhouse.com