Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Choppington Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 7:13pm on 27/8/15

Thank you for selecting information on the Choppington Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Northumberland. The info and images below have been supplied by CART's Northumberland CIO Stephen Lewins.

The Choppington patrol was part of Group No.5 under the command of Major Robert Charlton Hall. He was also the C/o of the South Northumberland Auxiliary units. A Bank Manager by day, a Home Guard officer by night and occasionally employed in “Marquis” work at weekends. He had been an officer in the First World War, serving in the Machine Gun Corps as a Lieutenant. He was badly injured at Passchendale and also lost part of a finger demonstrating explosives while with the Aux. His 2I/C was Lt Jack Whitfield from the Stobswood patrol.

Currently unknown

All the patrol members were miners as far as I can tell. Maj. R.C. Hall referred to his men as “the Bedlington Miners”, they were trained in demolition with local road and rail bridges along with the Port of Blyth as targets.

Patrol members as far as known:

Major R.C. Hall
Sgt. J.A. Graham
W. Gair
T.H. Harmeston
G. Laws
C.B. Mayes
R.S.G. Wilson

M G Turnbull 24, West Terrace, Stakeford. Transferred to RAF September 1943

There my have been others involved with the patrol.

Choppington Patrol members map

Choppington Auxiliary Unit Patrol - Drawn site map

Choppington Auxiliary Unit Patrol - Wide Shot

Choppington Auxiliary Unit Patrol - Wide Shot

Choppington Auxiliary Unit Patrol - Entrance Shaft

Choppington Auxiliary Unit Patrol's Operational Base - Entrance Shaft

Choppington Auxiliary Unit Patrol - Bolt hole end

Choppington Auxiliary Unit Patrol - Bolt hole end

Directions to OB (not private property)

There is no access other than by foot. From Hepscott village follow the public footpath that leads to Fieldhouse Close. At the fork in the footpath take the left path pass the sewerage works and follow the stream heading easterly to a style. Cross the next field diagonally to the small foot bridge. Cross the Catchburn stream. Instead of heading up the hill as the footpath continues, turn left and follow along the south side of the stream until you reach the NW corner of the wood. The O.B. is situated just within the wood on the high ground.

The O.B. looks to have been blown up. To the north is the Catchburn stream which could have acted as a water supply if needed. The stream also cuts under the embankment of the Blyth & Tyne railway line; this could have been used as an escape route by cutting through the culvert. The fields to the west and north form the dead ground near the O.B. The O.B. was built by 184th Tunnelling Company R.E. This was the second site for the patrol after the first O.B. nearer Bedlington, just off the Barrington Road, was abandoned due to bad security.

Observations at the OB

Vegetation: Thick undergrowth amongst mixed woodland

Remains: Part of a brick entrance shaft, some corrugated iron sheet in the standard “Elephant” type shelter style.

Orientation: Approx east to west

The OB with bunks still in place was almost complete until the area was cleared and replanted using heavy forestry machinery in the late 1980's.

A general view of the OB site

Looking down over the escape tunnel

Other Physical Remains.

Some corrugated iron sheet. Part entrance shaft and probably the concrete floor

Conclusion

The O.B. looks like it had a square brick entrance shaft on the east side. The bolthole escape tunnel route is visible and curves away from the west end toward the steam and is approx 25 yards long. The concrete base must still be complete as the floor of the O.B. has a thick covering of stagnant muddy water in it; I know I was stood in it!

Local road and rail bridges along with the Port of Blyth.

Currently unknown.

Unknown, but it is assumed that they would have access to the “standard” Auxiliary weapons of a Browning Automatic Rifle, a Thompson Machine Gun and two Enfield rifles.

Nothing currently.

Currently unknown.

If you can help with any info please contact us.