We have just added some third party videos of various Operational Bunkers in Sussex to our website. These were supplied to us by a third party care of YouTube.
You can see them here
Next week sees the return of the next instalment of the BBC’s popular Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm series. This time it is Wartime Farm. At least one episode feature Steve Mason, our CIO for Hampshire. Steve plays the part of an Intelligence Officer. The show also features scenes of Auxiliary Unit Re-enactors including Gerry Sutcliffe who has worked with CART a lot.
In a new eight-part series, historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn take on their biggest challenge yet – to turn back the clock and run Manor Farm exactly as it would have been during the Second World War. They will face one of the biggest challenges ever seen in the history of the British countryside – what Churchill called ‘the frontline of freedom’.
As well as tackling the trials of day to day living in volatile times, the team will be managing livestock, attempting to cultivate unused land, tackling new tools and technologies and learning the basics of civil defence, while all the time confronting shortages.
The first episode finds the farmers in a new location, a new time period and with a new team member. There is a farmhouse to modernise, strict new rules to abide by and air raid precautions to contend with.
The team begin by reclaiming land to grow new crops, whilst Peter works with a blacksmith to design a special ‘mole plough’ to help drain the waterlogged clay fields. Meanwhile Ruth and Alex get to grips with a troublesome wartime tractor – and must plough through the night to get the wheat crop sown in time.
During World War II farmers were tasked with the massive job of doubling food production,
but their detailed knowledge of the landscape also made them ideal recruits for one of the war’s most secret organisations – the ‘Auxiliary Units’, a British resistance force trained to use guerrilla tactics against German invasion.
Wartime Farm was co-produced with The Open University. (Source: BBC)
Charles George Spence – 28/6/1917 – 2/7/2012
I have to announce the death of former Auxilier Charles George Spence. He was the last surviving member of his patrol. He was part of the 1st East Lothian Battalion Home Guard, East Linton Patrol, 201 GHQ Reserve Auxiliary Units No. 4 Area (Border).
He was married to Jean with children Stella, Charles and Victoria. The family originated in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, his father was Charles Thomas Spence of Unst. His father farmed at Tynefield, Dunbar and was well known for breeding varieties of potato and a keen photographer.
Charles George Spence was in a reserved occupation when WW2 broke out but like many of his farming and agricultural workers answered the call to defend the country made by Anthony Eden on May 14th 1940. From his Home Guard and farming contacts he was eventually selected for something altogether more dangerous and totally secret. Along with George Davidson, Alan Cockburn, Adam Middlemas, Jock Grant, Willie Aldershaw and William Johnston they became the East Linton Patrol of the Auxiliary Units. Sworn to secrecy they were part of Major Gubbins’ “Marquis” an underground army recruited and equipped to cause as much havoc as possible if the Germans invaded. As a unit they had the best of equipment, much of which the regular army could only dream of.
East Lothain was seen as a major target for the Germans as the British fleet were at Rosyth Naval base just up the coast from Charles Spence and his patrols homes. Their other main target area was the main railway line down the east coast, telegraph and electrical supply poles and RAF East Fortune, an airfield the Germans would hope to capture and use as a base for bombing northern Britain and the fleet in the North Sea.
He under went training at Monksford, St. Boswells and Coleshill House near Swindon. At Coleshill they were taught the tactics they would need and how to use their large store of explosives. The patrol also featured in an inter unit shooting competition in which they finished 3rd behind Kent 1st and Sussex 2nd. George Davidson was the patrol’s best shot. Though this lead to some soul searching among the patrol who had decided that if captured Charles or George would shoot the prisoner to prevent him talking and save him from torture at the hands of his German captures. Life expectancy for the Auxiliers was less than two weeks.
Charles and the patrol were asked to volunteer for overseas action and were taken by train along with other members of the Scottish Auxilary Units south to London arriving on 6/6/44 to hear the news on the radio while having something to eat of the mass invasion by the Allies on the French coast. The East Linton patrol was then taken almost abroad to the Isle of Wight where they spent two weeks patrolling as the island’s hidden garrison. There was a fear that the Germans may use parachute troops to land on the island and start their own invasion thus upsetting the Allies plans. This did not happen and the men from East Linton returned home.
The Operations Base for the patrol was at Janefield Wood. It reached a wider audience in late 1974 when after the roof collapsed the army were called in to deal with the 30 year old high explosives left over from the war. Approximately 100lbs of high explosives and sticky bombs were blown up.
Rest in peace Charles George Spence a brave Scot’s Auxilier.
by CART CIO for Northumberland Stephen Lewins.
It is with great sadness that we report the death of Keith Blaxhall. Keith was the Head Warden at Coleshill (National Trust) for over 30 years and was incredibly influential in the creation of CART and was a founding member. He died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday. Keith features on our Weapons DVD and was a real ambassador for keeping the memory of the Auxiliary Units alive.
Keith was qualified as a Building and Land Surveyor and worked for an architect, a national contractor and in local government. Keith retired in May 2011 but for more than 30 years Keith was the Head Warden for The National Trust in West Oxfordshire and managed country estates, archaeological sites and woodlands covering in all approx 10,500 acres including Coleshill. He was the secretary of The Ridgeway Military and Aviation Research Group with a museum at RAF Welford near Newbury. Keith was also a member of The Airfield Research Group and The Mosquito Aircraft Museum and contributed parts to The Assault Glider Project at RAF Shawbury.
“Keith was my first point of contact at Coleshill and he got me really fired up about the British Resistance. He then worked closely with me as CART was formed and attended all our meetings. His experience, gentle manner and wealth of knowledge will be sorely missed.” – Tom Sykes – CART Founder
“I was very sorry to here of Keith’s passing – I met Keith not long after CART was founded and was struck by his experience, knowledge and enthusiasm for local history, especially that of the Auxiliary Units. A really, really nice guy, I’m sure he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.” – Peter Antill – CART Researcher
“I’m so very sorry to read about Keith. He was a gentleman in a land where few still exist. He had qualities and standards that anyone would be proud to emulate. My thoughts are with his family. It’s they that have to bear the brunt of sorrow, loss, perhaps anger and a hole in life impossible to fill. I’m dreadfully sorry, I liked him greatly.” – Richard Ashley – CART Weapons Adviser
“Such sad news – a really great guy who went out of his way help everyone. He called me only a few days ago to tell me that he had a pile of Aux Coleshill related papers that he was going to hand over. He was in good form, his normal cheerful self and we arranged to meet up. So it is a real shock to hear of his passing. My thoughts are with his family” – Bill Ashby – CART CIO for Coleshill
“ I feel privileged to have met with him and enjoyed his wonderful knowledge and humor.” Clive Bassett
“That is such a shame. Will be a sad loss to us all. Sympathy to his family.” - Sallie Mogford – CART CIO for Wales
“I was much saddened to hear the news about the passing on of Keith Blaxhall who’s kind hearted sharing spirit combined with his knowlege of Auxunits and Coleshill was a great help and support for me when I was doing my own researches. He was certainly an inspiration in the way he dealt with others and passed on his own infectious enthusiasm and interest.” – Matt Gibbs – Aux Researcher and Re-Enactor
“Keith’s knowledge and enthusiasm have, I am sure, inspired many people. He was always willing to put himself out to help others and it was always a delight to meet him. He was also a good friend to Subterranea Britannica, running a number of private tours at Coleshill and will be remembered by many.” – Martin Dixon - Subterranea Britannica
He leaves a wife and family and a huge void in the hearts of local historians.
The Brancaster Auxiliary Unit Patrol was one of only two patrols in Norfolk Group 6 the other being Holkham Park Patrol.
Sadly none of the patrol members are still alive and there are no relatives still living in the area but our researchers still managed to compile this report.
We have added information to the site on the Middleton Auxiliary Unit from Norfolk.
Their Operational Base was built by the patrol members themselves. All building materials were ‘borrowed’ from local sources. The roof was constructed from railway sleepers and corrugated sheeting covered with roofing felt. Roadside kerbstones were used for building the walls.
See the full report here
An unknown Operational Base marks the end of CART’s published research for Suffolk Auxiliary Unit Patrols.
CART researchers believe they have uncovered all the known patrols in the county and now hope the public can help fill in any last pieces.
You can read the report on this OB here
Today we added Copdock Auxiliary Unit, also known as Belstead Patrol to the website.
You can see the report here
Nicknamed ‘Songthrush’ the East Bergholt resistance force operated from their underground operational base situated west of East Bergholt.
The full report on these brave men can be read here
We have just added another Auxiliary Unit Patrol to the site.
Raydon patrol was also referred to as Stratford St Mary Patrol and formed part of Ipswich Group (Group No 5 Suffolk.
Sadly the OB has now collapsed but you can read the full report here