Posts by CART HQ:
Peter Potter was an Auxilier with Fingringhoe Patrol in Essex. A new book has been written about his life by his friend and Aux Researcher Hugh Frostick.
Peter Louis Potter shares his eventful life from “clodhopper to cloud-topper and fire-stopper”. His revealing and sometimes risqué tales range from Essex farming and village life, wartime service on Lancaster bombers, working in a mental asylum, and as a fireman in Colchester.
Never short of an idea for a laugh or an adventure, and often bending the rules, Peter gives a wonderful feel for how he and his family lived and worked at Fobbing on the Essex marshes and the industrialised Thames, and farming near Colchester at Easthorpe, Fingringhoe and Mersea Island.
When war came, Peter ran away from home to volunteer for RAF Bomber Command, leading to many exciting episodes in Churchill’s Secret Army and as a Lancaster rear gunner.
Peter’s skill as a raconteur has been well captured by Hugh Frostick. This highly entertaining account gives a fascinating insight into life and war in the 20th Century.
Peter Potter now lives in Elmstead Market and is a regular attendee at Boxted Airfield Museum, where he was stationed just after the war, as part of RAF liaison to hand over the station from the USAAF.
Peter celebrated his 92nd birthday on 30th May 2017.
Last weekend our Somerset Researcher Chris Perry attended The Dig for Victory Show.
Chris reported a good turn out of vehicles and displays with a fair bit of interest in the stand.
Chris got talking to a lady who knew of a Operational Base site in Dorset and her information was very helpful. He also attracted new leads for our Devon Researcher.
CART welcomed new researcher for East Hampshire, Jon Radcliffe to the stand at the Southwick Revival event. His local knowledge was invaluable as we spoke to a number of local residents with information about Auxiliary Units sites. Two visitors had played in the Southwick Operational Base as children and were able to describe it in detail, mentioning a previously unknown escape tunnel. Others gave accounts of the patrol members they had remembered from their youth. There was also a location provided for an Operational Base near Clanfield, though this might also relate to the Lovedean Patrol.
We also had some excellent information regarding an Base in Dorset and an oral history account from Sussex previously unknown to us.
Displaying in the middle of Southwick, Coleshill expert Bill Ashby went knocking on doors using the wartime addresses of patrol members and found relatives at one of these. They are looking out some photos of the patrol members for us which we hope to be able to add to the site in due course. We also heard a great deal about the area during wartime, as many of the wooded areas hosted allied troops in the run up to D-Day and remains still exist in a number of these.
Particularly interesting was a series of Tommy gun bullets which had been extracted from a felled tree. Eye witness accounts confirm that Generals Monty and Eisenhower fired Tommy guns at the tree one evening after dinner. Nobody had believed the story at the time, but decades later, the bullets were found in the timber when the tree was being cut up and kept by a local forestry worker. It isn’t often you know who fired a particular bullet, and even less often they are so famous!
It was impressive to see how many people had made the effort to appear in wartime dress, with many impressive wartime hairstyles and at least two vintage prams for young children. Periodically the military vehicles drove through the streets in convoy, past houses with taped windows and bunting.
The Aux Units part of the village’s history came as a surprise to some, with the D-Day map room and HQ being perhaps more famous. We’ve been asked back again next year…
(Report by Dr Will Ward – CART Dorset) Images by the team.
Yesterday a memorial plaque was unveiled in Stratton, Dorset to remember the eight men of the Wrackleford Auxiliary Unit.
The event was opened with a welcome from Andrew Aylott, Chairman of Stratton Parish Council. Major General AS Jeapes CB OBE MC, former Commander of 22 SAS, then gave an introduction to the event and the role of Auxiliary Units. He then introduced Jack Northover, last surviving member of the Stratton Auxiliary Unit Patrol, who joined unofficially at 15 years of age.
During the war, Jack lost his brother George William Northover who was an original patrol member. George was shot down and killed by the Germans while flying in a Lancaster bomber with the RAF In 1943. His father George Henry Northover, the Stratton patrol commander also died later that year, and his mother died the following year.
The stone,draped in the Union flag, was then unveiled by Mr Angus Campbell, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dorset. It was then dedicated by the Rev Dr John Travell FRSA. Tributes were read by Devina Symes, consisting of a specially written poem in the Dorset Dialect favoured by some of the men. (Wrackleford is a small hamlet adjacent to Stratton where some of the men lived)
Baroness Rock of Stratton then recounted some of her childhood memories of the area.
Floral tributes were laid by family members of the men commemorated. The British Legion standard bearers were present under the command of Parade Marshall Mr Spencer Hare. The service concluded with the playing of the Last Post and Reveille by Mr Mark Downton, formally a bandsman with 13/18 Hussars and relative of patrol member Lewis Downton.
Attendees then viewed a large exhibition about the patrol, and Auxiliary Units in general, staged by our team in the adjacent village hall.
Background to the plaque
In 2015, Dorset man David Downton was writing a piece on the Dorset dialect, as spoken by his uncle Lewis. He discovered that his uncle had been part of the secretive Auxiliary Units and contacted us with a plan to erect a memorial to a group of men who role was hitherto unknown. With the help of various local residents and the families of the men, he raised the funds and arranged all the necessary permissions to erect a commemorative stone in the village of Stratton, near Dorchester in Dorset.
READ MORE ON THE PATROL AND WATCH THE EVENT VIDEOS HERE
Last August we had the pleasure of filming with the team from the hit BBC show ‘Escape to the Country’ and Presenter Jonnie Irwin.
We have filmed with many media organisations in the past seven years but these guys had really done their homework and came to the site fully prepped.
The small production team interviewed our Coleshill expert Bill Ashby (Above) and with the help of National Trust Volunteers Roger Green and Bob Marchant (Below) they explored inside the new replica Operational Base. You can see a short behind the scenes video of the filming here.
The episode aired on Tuesday 9th May 2017 on BBC One at 3pm. You can watch it here.
We have come back from displaying at the Helicopter Museum’s ‘World of War Weekend’ in Weston Super-mare.
We just attended on the Saturday and Tony’s Scallywags stand is there today.
The day went very well and you can see a short video below. We displayed more weapons and explosives than ever before and had some new info panels made up by Nina (CART Devon). The organisers were very impressed with our contribution and have invited us back next year.
Thanks to all who contributed.
THIS WEEKEND: Come and see us at the ‘World At War Weekend’ at the Helicopter Museum, Weston.
On Saturday 8th ONLY we will be displaying the largest ever assembled collection of Aux weaponry and you can meet our researchers and learn more about Aux Units.
On Saturday AND Sunday Tony Salter’s excellent Scallywags Aux stand will be displaying.
Find out more about the event here.
Many of you kindly donated to our new website fund near the end of last year and we wanted to update you on the progress.
After raising the funding needed we signed a contract with an independent website developer who had been working on the planning stages of the project with us for over a year. The initial cost for a complete site rebuild was quoted between £12,000 and £30,000 but our developer was hopeful he could deliver this for the amount we had raised. As a sole trader he had very few business overheads. The original plan was that the site would be complete by November 2016.
Much progress has been made on the back end side of the website and the new patrol report took a lot longer to develop and code than anyone expected.
Last month we sadly learnt that our developer had decided to leave self employment and take on a full time role and this has left us no real choice but to transfer the development to a new company. We would like to thank him for all the unpaid work he has conducted to date and wish him all the best in his future job.
We’re hoping at this stage that a new contract will be signed by the end of March 2017 and work can continue without any additional fund raising needed.
We’re still working with the sites Graphic Designer who has come up with some really cracking new visuals.
Thank you for all your generous donations and on going support for our work. We apologise for the delay in delivering what will be be a much more user friendly, mobile friendly and lasting legacy to the men and women of the British Resistance Movement.
On Friday 11th November we were featured on BBC Breakfast and BBC News by the BBC’s Robert Hall.
The 28 minutes of total broadcast were broken up into various broadcasts, some were LIVE. These can all be seen here. Also featured in the broadcasts was a tour of a Special Duties bunker in Devon, never before broadcast on television, and live interviews from GHQ Coleshill with our Founder Tom Sykes. You can the longest and most interesting of these below. We would like to thank Robert Hall for his outstanding contribution to this and the BBC for giving our work so much airtime.
We are sorry to have to report the death of Auxilier Edward James Lapthorne who was always known as Jim and was formerly of Penquit. Jim was a member of the Ugborough Patrol in Devon. Jim sadly passed away on 14th September 2016 aged 93.
His funeral was held at St Peters and St Pauls in Ermington on Thursday 22nd September at 1.30.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.