Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

This page is part of a site tour of the Coleshill estate during WW2. Click here to start the tour. 

Please Note: The Coleshill House site and grounds are owned by the National Trust. The woods and grounds of the house are all strictly private and access is limited to set days a year. See our events page for their official open days. Attempting to access the site outside of these times is not only trespassing but could damage the future of our work and relationship with the Trust and villagers. Please respect this.

MT (Motor Transport) Park

This page was last updated at 4:25pm on 13/2/12

Concealed in the woods close to the North lodge was the MT (Motor Transport) Park.
An area that hid the vehicles used by AUX GHQ. Manned by a small detachment of men from the RASC (Royal Army Service Corps) they operated and maintained the vehicles.

Routine servicing was done on site and if major repair work was required Simpsons the local garage in Highworth was used.

MT service ramp Coleshill

MT service ramp Coleshill

MT service ramp Coleshill

Pictures of the service ramp located in the woods. Pictures taken by CART Jan 2011.

One of the Staff Officers (GSO3) was the MT Officer. He Commanded the RASC personnel which a 1940 record of the War Office Establishment gave it as:

Clerks RASC (a)4 plus 1 WO Class 1 and 1 Sgt                Drivers RASC       14

This Establishment level varied as the war progressed. The vehicles available for use included:

 

                        Staff Car                         M/Cycle               15cwt & 3 ton Bedford OY                   


The following information is an EXTRACT from an archaeological report produced in January 2012 following CART's Coleshill Uncovered project. A range of people contributed, including CART. The report was edited by John Winterburn and Anna Gow.

We have extracted the key info for this area but would suggest you read the full report here

STRUCTURE 1 - MOTOR SERVICE RAMP

Consisting of two large concrete plinths that run at approximately 35°, it has always been thought that this structure was a motor vehicle ramp. The two plinths are 4.40m long, by 0.43m wide, by 1.3m high, and they sit 0.44m apart. The area between the two plinths has, over time, become full of loose soil and vegetative matter. The key task for this structure therefore was to clear the area between the two plinths. The initial accumulation layer of soil and vegetative matter was fairly loose and easily removed.

The accumulation layer was approximately 0.19m at the southern end of the concrete plinths, deepening to approximately 0.80m at the northern end. Once cleared a hard concrete surface was revealed, believed to be the floor of the vehicle inspection pit. In-between the two concrete plinths, about half way along, several large pieces of broken concrete were uncovered as the accumulation layer was cleared away. These ranged in size from 0.31 x 0.16 x 0.23m to 0.50 x 0.45 x 0.22m. Due to the size and weight of these it was impossible to remove them and the clearance activity continued around them. Another large piece of concrete was discovered at the northern end of the structure, this along with the looseness of the vegetative matter made it impossible to clear right to the end of the concrete plinths. Clearance therefore stopped 0.12 - 0.27m before the northern end of the concrete plinths.

MT-Ramp-CU-2012The plinths were constructed from concrete containing small rounded aggregate (less than 20mm) and horizontal 'pour' lines were visible on the vertical surface. These may be evidence of shuttering that was used as a form for the concrete. A 0.015m layer of ridged concrete (see photo to left) has then been laid on the top of the plinths. At the southern end of the concrete plinths, several steel reinforcing rods (0.03-0.04m long) protruded from the top face of the plinths.

Significant finds

A variety of finds were discovered at Structure 1 including good evidence for motor vehicle maintenance (see no's 117 - 140 in full report) and a possible oddity (Find no 138 - Image in report). An exterior 'Treble' knob (Find No. 120) was also found in amongst the build-up of matter in between the concrete plinths.

 


• No. 117 - Engine cylinder head gasket fragment.
• No. 118 - Automotive electrical junction box.
• No. 140 - Ceramic vent for a lead-acid vehicle battery, manufactured by Lucas.
• No. 138 - Part of a clear glass lens, possibly from an airfield runway light (maybe attributable to the Auxiliaries).

Photo 2: Find 140 - Ceramic battery vent (Photo No. CH07-11- 0168)

Conclusion
The large pieces of concrete that were found between the plinths are thought to be part of a ramp used to drive vehicles up onto the plinths. The ramp would have been attached to the plinths at their northern end. Further evidence to support the idea that vehicles were driven in from the north is the steel reinforcing rods located at the southern end of both plinths. Now bent over, but originally sitting upright in the top of the plinths, these rods possibly supported a concrete stop plate to ensure vehicles did not drive too far. The ridges in the concrete on the top of both plinths would have provided traction for any vehicle that was driven onto the structure. The vehicle parts that were collected also suggest this structure was related to vehicle centred activity. This may have been vehicle maintenance or could have been as a teaching aid for instruction in acts of vehicle sabotage.

COMMENTS & OBSERVATIONS ON STAGE 2 REPORT By Bill Ashby (CART CIO for Coleshill)

As described in the report the inspection pit has reinforcing bars protruding on top of the walls at the South end which would have supported some form of ‘Stop’ to prevent a vehicle running off the end.  No side guides are evident so that careful directional guidance would have been necessary.  This means that a vehicle would have been reversed into place from the North.

MT-ramp-BA

 

The concrete walls have vertical ends.  There does not appear to be any provision at the North end to support concrete ramps.  As this photograph shows there is a difference in ground level.  The size of the trees growing in the high ground may indicate that this is not post war fill but original ground level thereby reducing the size of any ramp needed. 

 

 

 

 

Just East of the Inspection Ramp there is a low level brick pier and a vertical length of angle iron (1 ½” ?) which does not appear to be associated with the house stone rubble dumped nearby.

MT Park

Access to the Inspection Ramp required space to manoeuvre therefore the Servicing Area would not have been used for parking vehicles.

MT park trees

The trees in this area have grown post war.  

North Lodge gate

NORTH LODGE GATE
Opening on the right leads to open area – mature trees gave overhead cover.

Read more about the house pre war here and during the war here.