Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Crowle 'Joshua' Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 7:58am on 12/7/15

Thank you for selecting information on the Crowle 'Joshua' Auxiliary Unit Patrol in Worcestershire. The info below have been supplied by our internal archive.

Code name for the patrol was 'Joshua'.

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

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Worcestershire (Groups 1a and 1b) formed part of area 19 which also included Herefordshire, Monmouthshire (Group 3) and latterly from 1943 part of Glamorganshire (Groups 4a and 4b).

The first intelligence officer was Captain John Ellerman Todd who had been a London stockbroker before the war. Known to be a character but dressed as the country gent it is believed he lived at Llanfihangel Crucorny in Monmouthshire. Recruited to SOE, Todd was replaced by Captain Christopher Sandford and the area headquarters became Eye Manor near Leominster. A later Intelligence Officer included Captain Lloyd Bucknell RA.

Worcestershire Group 1a consisted of three Patrols: Bishampton (“David”) Patrol, Overbury Patrol and Alfrick (“Jehu”) Patrol.

Area Commander for both groups in Worcestershire was Captain Lewis E Van Moppes.
Group commander of 1a Patrols was his brother Lt Edmund M van Moppes.

It is thought that stores were held at Wolverton Hall, the home of Company Quartermaster Sergeant Thomas Dawe.

Many Auxiliers recall Sergeant Thurston Holland-Martin of Overbury Patrol as having a roll in recruiting and training.

Worcestershire,  Herefordshire and Monmouthshire Patrols were given Biblical code names. It is assumed this was an initiative of Todd to prevent the use of patrols locations names. 

Thought to be the second patrol to be formed in Worcestershire after “Samson” Patrol which was in place by July 1940.

Roger Smith 1st Sergeant Promoted to Lieutenant and succeeded by Sergeant John Wythes (ex Home Guard + knew van Moppes very well)
Albert James “Jim” Holt (ex Home Guard)
Corporal John Ivor Thomas (ex Home Guard)
Noel Huband (ex Home Guard)
John Burnley “Jack” Badger (ex Home Guard)
Private John Edward Hartwright joined later in the war.

The patrol had two OB’s.  The first was east of Crowle Village in Woodland (owned at the time by Croome Estate) over looking Upton Snodsbury.  This OB was abandoned as it flooded (built by Royal Engineers).  The first OB was replaced by another structure built in woods owned by Captain Castle on north-west side of the village. This site provided good views of flat lands between Crowle and Worcester towards Droitwich.  Little remains of the first OB but the second is more complete although it has recently collapsed.  The sewer pipe escape tunnel is still apparent and is now used by badgers as a set.

The OB had a telephone which was connected to another handset in a hidden observation post set in a large tree some distance away.  Apparently these telephones were also connected to a line back to the village, presumably Roger Smith.  But primary purpose was to alert the OB of approaching enemy patrols to enable escape. 

Lighting was provided by a hurricane lamp and John Wythes remembered that they were careful when cooking food to avoid fumes issuing from the OB.

Jim confirmed that, like elsewhere, their former colleagues in the Home Guard became their rivals but apparently did not find out what the patrol were up to or that they had their OB nearby.

Jim remembered staying in this OB for weekends, using the vertical shaft for access. The emergency exit tunnel was apparently never used, even for practice, and was blocked off ,with a wooden door, although it would have been
opened in an emergency. He remembered there being a stock of food and drink at the OB, the former being mainly tinned-stuff, and a sealed gallon jar of rum. This was apparently opened by the Crowle Patrol when they were stood down and was found to be empty, even though the seal was intact!

Harass German troops on the main A422 approach to Worcester from the east.  Also likely main north – south railway line from Birmingham to Cheltenham and possibly Spetchley Court.

Local training took place at Commandary Farm. The patrol were discovered while on a training exercise by a person who used to live close by and was out looking for his pigs in the wood that night. The patrol had just set a number of trip wires with explosives when the man appeared. He was intermediately sworn to secrecy and told that if there was an invasion he would have to join them in their OB. Jim was well aware that this was a kinder approach than some patrols would have adopted. Elsewhere he would have been placed on a hit list for assassination!

Jim can recall the patrol going to Coleshill for their initial training and later for competitions. On one of the trips he tells me that this was conducted in the winter and their objective was a lorry parked inside a high wall at Coleshill, where they were to place magnets. They had previously been warned to take white overalls by Roger Smith, because snow was on the ground at the time. The patrol were told of their objective and allowed to recce the approach to it during the day. He recalls that during the night approach, one member of the patrol managed to evade the guards and reach the objective by crawling along the top of the wall, but Jim, who was hiding in the ruts of a cart track, was actually trodden on by a guard and "captured". Since only he managed to be caught, the patrol
came second in the contest and he thinks but for that they would have won. Joshua Patrol actually reached the finals at Coleshill.

The arms, ammunition and explosives were stored in the Fruit Room, at Froxmere Court, which was kept padlocked and seldom visited. (The OB was apparently too damp to store the munitions). This room was reached through the garden tool store which is attached to and at the east end of Froxmere Court Cottage. This is where Jim and his wife lived, he was in control of the munitions store. He also had the use of the patrol's silenced .22 rifle and often used it on the estate. On other occasions this rifle was used by the whole patrol for target practice. Jim became very proficient with this weapon and had reached the finals of a national shooting competition when the Auxiliaries were stood down and the contest was canceled.

Other weapons he remembered each of the patrol members having, were the FS fighting knife, which was worn inside their trouser leg and the Smith and Wesson .38 revolver. There was also a Thompson SMG which was later replaced by a Sten. Roger Smith apparently had a smaller revolver than the rest of the patrol, probably a .32, and Jim remembers Roger almost shooting himself in the leg with his own pistol on one occasion. The patrol were on an
exercise and Roger Smith was fingering his revolver, which was still holstered and strapped to his belt, when it went off. The bullet missed the side of his leg by a fraction and went into the ground by his foot!

The arms ammunition and explosives were collected at the end of the war by a Regular army officer and corporal and when the store was opened up much of the equipment had deteriorated due to damp and had to be destroyed, including some of the weapons, which had badly rusted. This perhaps reflects a lack of interest in Auxiliary
matters towards the end of the war.

The patrol's HQ was Roger Smiths house or Wolverton Hall.

Jim remembered the patrol had biblical code names and confirmed that theirs was "Joshua. with this he began to sing, for the patrol seemed also to have adopted the Joshua song, which happened to be one of his favorites.

To provide some some sort of cover for their patrol and make themselves appear as ordinary as possible to the locals, the Auxiliaries attended the same church parades, and other events as the Home Guard.

One of the problems Jim had was thinking of excuses to give to his wife when he had to go off with his patrol for exercises or training. He felt very sorry for her because their cottage was located close to a wood and being alone, with two young children, sometimes for days on end, she would become frightened. There was little he could do about it, except be concerned.

Joshua Patrol also spent a week on the Isle of Wight, at about the time of D-Day, guarding an ammunition store.



The Mercian Maquis by Bernard Lowry & Mick Wilks, TNA WO199/3389, Hancock data held at B.R.A, Interview with James Holt & John Wythes by Mick Wilkes in 2000.