Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Havant East Auxilliary Unit Patrol

A report by Steve Mason for CART. hq@coleshillhouse.com

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

Thank you for selecting information on the Havant (East) Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base.

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Havant - East / Southleigh area - see map
This patrol is only suspected, not certain. But, while evidence is slight, the reasons for suspecting a patrol here are definite. The next nearest patrol is the Havant West Patrol (left hand yellow circle on map), but their OB is at least two miles away, and they have quite enough targets nearby. To cover the targets around Southleigh as well could have significantly overstretched their men and resources, and it would mean going near or through the town of Havant; making them prone to being spotted. Also, researchers in various counties have independently noted the average operational range of most patrols to be about two miles.

The evidence to indicate a separate patrol for the Southleigh area is two-fold. Firstly, there is the negative evidence: without a patrol in this area there would be a significant hole in the Auxiliary Units’ coverage of the principle invasion coastline (Sussex and Hampshire). And, the list of potential Patrol Targets (below) shows just how much a patrol would be needed in this spot. There was the actual Stanstead Patrol (top-most yellow circle on map). But, even more than Havant West, they would have to operate on the limit of practicality, or beyond, to move from their OB, plant their explosives, and make it back before daylight (a return trip of 4 to 5 miles).

The positive evidence. In 2010, report of some sort of saboteur unit in the Southleigh area was found by chance in “Front line Havant” written by Arthur Herbert Jones (see References, below). But this was a Home Guard memoir and the author did not refer specifically to Auxiliary Units, merely mentioning “Two hideouts for guerrillas deep in the estate owned Southleigh Forest.”

Researchers elsewhere in Britain have discovered evidence of Home Guard members arranging copy-cat “guerrilla units” to stay-behind when German invasion forces had moved past to fight our regular troops further inland. It seems some ordinary Home Guard men either learnt from their colleagues who were members of actual Auxiliary Units, or they came up with a similar idea, quite independently and by chance. So, the Southleigh “guerrillas” may have been one of these latter types.

But it should be remembered that “Guerrilla” was the term used by some of the instigators within the Auxillier Units set-up from the beginning. Churchill to Eden, 25 September 1940: 'I have been following with much interest the growth and development of the new guerrilla formations ... known as 'Auxiliary Units.'

The other alternative is that the Havant West Patrol at Bedhampton may have been ordered to cover the targets as far east and south as it could, while Stanstead Patrol covered as far south and west as it could, thus together covering the Southleigh area. However, a careful study of the map and the targets between the two patrols, suggests this arrangement would be far from ideal.
With these several issues needing clarification, research is on-going.

Information given in speech marks elsewhere in this report, unless otherwise stated, is quoted from Arthur Jones’ Front Line Havant.

Patrol Inauguration

Without the names and addresses, and joining dates of any Auxiliers listed for the Southleigh area in the Hampshire Nominal Roll no certain information is available. But it is highly likely that this patrol (if it existed) had the same instigator/recruiter as Sydney Adlam’s patrol - Lieutenant Donald Brownlee, who lived not far away in East Cosham; not least because he also recruited men for the Chalton Patrol several miles to the north (See John Budden’s auxilier memoir for Chalton Patrol). If this is so, it is likely that any Southleigh Patrol members were recruited similarly to Mr Adlam (see Havant West Patrol).

Patrol Members

The Hampshire Nominal Roll of Auxilliers does not list any men living in the far east of the county near Southleigh Forest. But there are many names listed as having left the Units, or deceased, and these standardly have their addresses removed, so some may have been Southleigh men. Significantly, other known Auxiliers in Britain have not been found in surviving copies of the Nominal Roll either. However, the East Hampshire – West Sussex border is close by, and perhaps the Southleigh Patrol were recruited along the Sussex edge of the border. Research into this possibility has yet to conlcude.

Arthur Herbert Jones when describing the guerrilla’s hideouts states they were “known only to the four of us”. Presumably the four names he gives below (not in the Nominal Roll) were included in or extra to the six or more men that he infers were actually to use the hideouts.

Possible members

Sir Dymoke White – Southleigh Estate owner and the Southleigh Home Guard platoon “Captain”. [Note: perhaps a Knight of the Realm would not also be a “guerrilla”.]

Norman Adams – Southleigh Estate Steward. “Served in the Hampshire Carabiners Yeomanry in France, during world war one.” [Note: in other Auxiliary Patrols elsewhere in the UK, Estate stewards and other outdoors staff were recruited, especially when an OB was sited in their estate.]

Arthur Herbert Jones

Charles Whitlock – Gamekeeper

Of the four names, two are prominent. Norman Adams had military experience; which was preferred for Auxiliers. Likewise, “Charles Whitlock had been a sniper in…World War One and fallen victim to a gas attack…” And research elsewhere demonstrates several Auxiliers wounded in the First War were still preferred for their military experience. He was also the Southleigh Estate Gamekeeper, and these were frequently chosen among Estate staff for their ability to live off the land and their detailed knowledge of the estate grounds in which OB’s were sometimes sited. Moreover, the role of sniper was present in most patrols after the common issue of a silenced rifle (See Weapons & Equipment, below).

Operational Bases

Arthur Jones tells of “Two hideouts for guerrillas deep in the estate owned Southleigh Forest. Constructed secretly… two holes 6 feet deep, with boarded walls and metal roof, which was covered with soil to a depth of not less than six inches, and a ventilator shaft opening in undergrowth a yard or so away, all so effectively concealed…each designed to hold about six men. What had been done with the excavated soil I never discovered…” (on map – the middle yellow circle in green area of “Emsworth Common”)

The construction details of the Southleigh “hideouts” sound like either the early-war Mark 1 or mid-war Mark 2 variety of operational base, as identified by Auxiliary researcher Alan Williamson (see References, below). This information, coupled with the fact that Arthur Jones calls them “hideouts”, is further circumstantial evidence to suggest they were built for an actual Auxiliary patrol. The term “hideout” corresponds to the first wartime name for the Auxiliary patrol bases, before the official change to “Operational Base”.

While Arthur Jones describes two holes being dug for hideouts “each designed to hold about six men”, which could indicate two separate patrols, it seems unlikely there would have been enough room – geographically – for two patrols to operate without causing each other tactical and security difficulties. However, one of these “holes” may have been a supplies store or a secondary – fall back – base, should anyone discover the first OB; an arrangement known among several Auxiliary patrols elsewhere in Britain, not least the nearby Stanstead Patrol.

Observation Posts: No posiotion is currently known, but these are usually sited near the OB and sometimes looking out over the nearest road or track to observe German movements or anyone approaching.

Patrol Targets

Potentially, all the following would be significant for a patrol placed in or around Southleigh.

  • The railway inland through Havant from the main east-west coastal line to all places north and London (yellow X on map).
  • The main east-west coastal railway line from the west, but especially from Southampton and Portsmouth deepwater docks, heading to Chichester and all places east and London (map – dark blue X). It cannot be over-stated just how vital this feature is for the rapid progress of re-enforcements and supplies for an invading army along the south coast and inland to the rest of Britain.
  • The road network.
    - The current secondary road B2148 was a more significant ‘A’ road during WW2 running north from Emsworth Harbour (map – red X).
    - The current A3023/B2149 (map – green X) from Langstone Harbour, near the Royal Oak pub by Hayling bridge. (Both harbours are small ports where German supply vessels could birth in deeper and calmer water than on local beaches and send their supplies inland up these two roads.)
    - The Emsworth Common Road running east-west from Chichester to Havant (map – pink X). Where this road joins the Horndean Road (B2148) at the Bartons Road crossroads (map – black X), Arthur Jones tells us the Southleigh Park Estate platoon of Home Guard built an array of concrete and brick bunkers to prevent German moves inland from Emsworth along the B2148. (Some of these low bunkers can still be found today, but much overgrown, illustrating the significance that British forces attributed to this road and crossroads for any invading army landing around Emsworth.)
    - The A27, main east-west coast road, linking all the south coast deepwater ports, all the railway stations and goods yards and all roads inland: a vital communications route for an invader (map – brown X).
    • Hayling bridges. The broad, sandy beach on Hayling’s southern end is one of the most likely invasion points in the area. And the bridges at the head of Langstone Harbour carried the road and the branch railway line off the island, both of which would provide good access inland for an invasion force (map – mid-blue X). The home forces artillery battery on Portsdown Hill also had the task of shelling the Hayling bridges in the event of an invasion. (For further information on the Anti-invasion Interdiction Battery on Portsdown Hill, see here http://www.portsdown-tunnels.org.uk/ )

    

      Bartons Road HG Bunker                    Emsworth Harbour                        Langstone Harbour

Patrol Training

 Currently uncertain, but likely to be similar to Havant West Patrol and perhaps Southwick Patrol. (In several instances in the UK, various patrols local to one another used the same training areas, sometimes even without the adjacent patrol’s knowledge.)

• Explosives training. Almost certainly the old gravel pit in Southleigh Forest (map – red circle), not least because Havant West Patrol definitely practiced with their explosives on old cars there. And, Arthur Jones – probably a Southleigh Patrol member – even mentions the pit, saying how “the large pond in the gravel pit in…Southleigh Forest was used for testing amphibious vehicles designed for D-Day.”

• Shooting practice. This could have happened in a valley at Butser Hill near Petersfield as it did for Havant West Patrol, or in Stanstead Forest (Map – green circle) where Stanstead Patrol practiced. Otherwise, probably in Southleigh Forest itself (map – “Emsworth Common”).

• Night exercises may have been held on Portsdown Hill, as for Havant West, Cosham Patrol and Southwick Patrol.

Military Liason

Likely to be a 12 man section from the Warwickshire regiment, probably based at Horndean, a few miles to the north. These regular troops had their Headquarters at Bishops Waltham, and provided men to constitute (at least) the east Hampshire Auxiliary Scout Section/s (Source: J. Budden’s memoir, included on the Chalton Patrol page).

Weapons & Equipment

Probably the usual for a patrol: each man having a .38 calibre revolver, one .22 silenced bolt-action rifle, perhaps a Thompson Sub-machine Gun, or in later years a Sten SMG. Each man would also have a Fairburn-Sykes fighting knife or its equivalent.

The nearest SDS Out Station was at Rowlands Castle (map – light-blue circle). Notice how the out station it is centrally placed in relation to the three patrols (OB’s – yellow circles). There it is well able to report, not only German movements through the road and rail network locally, but also the outcome of attacks by the Auxiliary patrols themselves.

References

a)   In Havant Museum reference section: Front line Havant by Arthur Herbert Jones. Published by Viridis Services, 82 Southleigh Rd, Havant, Hampshire. Printed by Southern Press (41 Portsmouth Rd, Horndean), 1996, ISBN 1901337 006.
b) Secret War interview with Sydney Adlam recorded by Martyn Cox (copy in CART archive).
c) East Ridings Secret Resistance by Alan Williamson, Published 2004 by Middleton Press, West Sussex. ISBN: 1904474217