Sep 222015
 

Ron, who was a member of the Maiden Newton Patrol, Dorset, passed away on 25th August 2015. He was 92 years old and the last surviving member of his patrol. Ron recorded his memories for the Maiden Newton at war events and they were published in a special edition of the local paper as part of this.

His wife Dorothy predeceased him. His funeral service was on 8th September 2015 at Weymouth Crematorium.

Our thanks to John Pidgeon for passing on the information.

Ron Vallis, ready to serve when called. 

We will remember them….

Jul 142015
 

Margaret Jackson, who has died aged 96, was entrusted with many of Britain’s wartime secrets in her role as principal secretary to the first Commander of Aux Units & later Special Operations Executive (SOE), Brigadier (later Major-General Sir) Colin Gubbins.

Margaret JacksonIn 1940 Margaret Jackson was working for the Royal Institute of International Affairs when she was interviewed by Gubbins. He was looking for a French-speaking secretary and she joined him in Paris, where he headed the mission to liaise with resistance groups run by the Polish and Czech authorities in exile.

In Paris she was a secretary to No 4 Military Mission before being recruited to Military Intelligence Research (MIR), a small department of the War Office. After the German breakthrough, on June 17, with the French surrender imminent, she escaped from St Malo on a hospital ship and got back to England.

In London, having reported to MIR, she was told that Gubbins had been directed to form the Auxiliary Units, a clandestine civilian force which would operate behind German lines if Britain were invaded. She worked for him first in Whitehall and then at a country house in Wiltshire.

Promising recruits were found in the Home Guard and organised into patrols. They were trained in the use of explosives, including Molotov cocktails. Specially prepared hide-outs were found in woods and farm buildings, and Margaret Jackson personally took a hand in selecting these for members of the units.

In November, Gubbins was seconded to SOE, which had recently been established to wage guerrilla warfare in Nazi-occupied countries and, in Churchill’s words, to “set Europe ablaze”. Priority was given to cutting enemy communications and subverting their morale. After paramilitary training, students completed a parachute course at Ringway (now Manchester airport). Selected agents might then be sent to learn sabotage techniques or to be trained as radio operators. In early 1941 a group of so-called “finishing schools” was set up in the New Forest to provide general training in clandestine operations. SOE had its headquarters in Baker Street. Having outgrown two gloomy family flats in an apartment building, it moved to a modern office block. In the autumn of 1940 and the winter of 1940-41, everyone was working almost around the clock, and many of the staff slept in their offices. All had cover stories to match the work that they were doing, and the necessity to keep the organisation secret made it very difficult to take on new recruits.

When Gubbins and Margaret Jackson first arrived, there was not a single radio set operating in Occupied Europe. By the summer and autumn of 1941, however, more than 60 agents had been dispatched to north-west Europe, nearly half of them to France.

Gubbins was proving to be the linchpin of the organisation, and in November his responsibilities were widened: French, Belgian, Dutch, German and Austrian sections were added to the Polish and Czech sections for which he was already responsible.

Margaret Jackson’s already heavy workload increased correspondingly. Her role was to coordinate the work of the senior secretaries who had to wrestle with multiple carbon copies and manual typewriters. With large bundles of telegrams being the lifeblood of the organisation, she sifted and annotated them for Gubbins, who would read them and pass them on to section heads. Security was a priority. Posters on the wall warned against careless talk and the danger of informers. Every night papers had to be locked up or shredded, and diaries and blotters removed. In September 1943 Gubbins became executive head of SOE, and Margaret Jackson regarded him as a born leader. For his part, he was not afraid to delegate responsibility to her and to other members of his very competent staff; he would not countenance any form of discrimination against women.

SOE had to survive setbacks, mistakes, betrayals, intrigues and constant efforts to remove its independence. The battle with Whitehall for scarce resources was, at times, almost as fierce as the fight with the Germans. The “Baker Street Irregulars” were, however, buoyed up by an unshakeable conviction that eventually the war would be won.

Margaret Wallace Jackson was born in London to Scottish parents on January 15 1917 and was brought up in Argentina, where her father was in business. She was educated at home by a governess until the age of 13, when she was sent to a Methodist school in England, where the family returned to live after her father’s death in 1934.

When SOE was disbanded in 1946, Margaret Jackson was appointed MBE. She joined the Allied Commission for Austria in Vienna and took notes at the quadripartite meetings. She subsequently joined the Organisation of European Economic Co-operation in Paris and worked as its deputy secretary for about four years.

Margaret Jackson believed that many in Britain underestimated the miracle of Franco-German reconciliation. She was a passionate advocate of European unity and reconstruction, and regarded this period of her life as immensely satisfying.
She returned to England in 1952 and, having joined the Foreign Office, was posted to Melbourne in Australia as an information officer. There she became involved in Moral Re-Armament, a movement that was gaining traction among dockside workers at a time of considerable industrial strife.

When she was told to sever her association with MRA on the ground that she was dabbling in politics, she refused; the matter was dropped, but she subsequently resigned and returned to England. Back in London, she worked in a number of secretarial jobs, including nine years as PA to the secretary of the Malaysian Natural Rubber Producers’ Research Association. For eight years she served as a Conservative councillor for the London borough of Southwark.

She retired to a Methodist home at Croydon. The Imperial War Museum has a recording of an interview that she gave about her time with SOE.

Margaret Jackson was unmarried. One of her three sisters, Patricia, married Sir Patrick Dean, British Ambassador to the UN (1960-64) and to the United States (1965-69); another, Elisabeth, was the wife of Lord Roskill, the Law Lord.

Margaret Jackson, born January 15 1917, died June 2 2013

[Source: Telegraph]

Jun 222015
 
Copyright Katie Hart - Just Regional

Copyright Katie Hart – Just Regional

Jill Monk from Aylsham in Norfolk has passed away at the age of 89.

During the war Jill worked for the Special Duties Branch (part of the Aux Units) as a message courier for her father’s secret radio station. This was cleverly hidden in the coal hole of the family house at Aylsham where he was a doctor.

Jill would be sent out at night, commonly on horseback, to deliver any messages they had received. The messages were hidden inside split tennis balls and deposited via a disguised pipe. Jill had two horses, one chestnut, for riding during the day, and one black, for night exercises when she would ride cross-country.

See more about her work below.


Towards the end of the war Jill became a radar operator at the Chain Home Radar Station in Stoke Holy Cross. In 1946, she competed at the Aylsham Show on her then favourite mount, Merry Monarch, a horse she had also favoured, because of its dark coat colour, when out at night delivering secret messages. She remained a regular competitor at the Aylsham Show for many years, first as a horse rider and later as a judge and sponsor of the Highland Pony in-hand classes.

Her remarkable story is catalogued both in ‘With Britain in Mortal Danger’ and ‘Churchill’s Underground Army‘ by John Warwicker or you can read our interview with her here.

Feb 092015
 

George RaymondGeorge Raymond of the Meerhay Auxiliary Unit Patrol passed away on 3rd February 2015 aged 102!

George was born at Home Farm, Shipton Gorge, Dorset.

George’s brother Ernest was also in the patrol which trained locally on farm land owned by the brothers at Hewstock Farm.

They practised felling trees with explosives on a couple of occasions, in case they needed to block roads. The patrol members usually operated in pairs during an attack, but would then split and return individually. George Raymond recalled coming across two regular soldiers set as guards for the exercise while coming home. He managed to convince them that he was a farmer on his way to milk the cows at this early hour and was commended by his patrol leader for doing so successfully. This of course indicates that they were operating in civilian dress.

George & Ernest Raymond

After the war George we went back to farming and doing a milk-round with his brother.

George’s Aux uniform can be seen at the Beaminster Museum one of only two examples on public display in the UK.

Our thanks must go to Martyn Allen, Mary Payne and Brian Earl from Beaminster Museum.

Walter George Raymond, ready to serve when called. 

We will remember them….

Feb 012015
 

Patrick Barrett OBE

Patrick John Fox Barrett OBE passed away on 6 January 2015.

After serving in Somerset with the Langridge Auxiliary Unit Patrol he was drafted into the Royal Navy towards the end of the war and helped sail Lend Lease landing craft across the Atlantic back to the United States, an experience he later described as ‘bilious.’

He then served with the Colonial Service, Commonwealth Office and finally the Diplomatic Service in such places as the Solomon Islands, Nigeria, Malaysia and Italy.

He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) while working at the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur for services to British- Malaysian relations. His last overseas post was as British Consul at Venice.

In 1994 he attended an Aux reunion in GHQ Coleshill along with Ron Hatchard and Ken Cleary, both no longer with us.

In July 2000 he attended the National Reunion at the BRO Museum in Parham, Suffolk with his wife Veronica.

He passed away peacefully at home with his wife by his side.

Patrick Barrett OBE, ready to serve when called. 

We will remember them….

Jan 242015
 
Roy Russell during the Second World War (Pic: Dorking Advertiser )

Roy Russell during the Second World War (Pic: Dorking Advertiser )

Roy Russell from Fetcham was an integral part of the secret radio network known as the Special Duties Branch, set up by Winston Churchill in 1940 and a part of the Auxiliary Units.

Roy started off as an ordinary infantryman and it was only when questioned by his enlisting officer that his career became clear.

“He asked me what I liked and I said music. He then asked me what sort and I said Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart, which he said was enemy stuff. I said I loved all music anyway and he said I would do well in the Royal Corps of Signals. These words would change my life.”

After joining the Corps he trained in Morse code and went on to intercept coded messages from German planes during the Blitz.

He later did officer training and was given his own area of the secret communications network covering parts of the North Sea and Channel coasts in the South East. The centre, near a cinema in Sevenoaks, was highly secretive and concealed in case of enemy invasion.

Mr Russell said: “It was hidden in a copse and to get in you had to find a little squar-ish stone with a cross on it which hid a square top of a metal rod. I would use a crank handle to raise a manhole-like circle covered in grass off of the ground, and step down a ladder.

“There would be a small chamber with shelving and an ammunition box so anybody who found it would think it an abandoned arms dump. But on one of the shelves was a piece of wire and if you pushed this through a hole it would cantilever into the set-room.”

You can see a similar location in Norwich here.

Roy’s secrecy over his wartime experiences lasted for 50 years after the war and he only told his story after receiving a phone call from Aux Writer John Warwicker.

He said: “I feel very proud of being part of it because it’s part of the war that not many people know about. It’s totally unbelievable and it seems very cloak and dagger, but it wasn’t like that for us.”

Roy Russell with the medal given to him in 2009 by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown. (Pic: Dorking Advertiser)

Roy Russell with the medal given to him in 2009 by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown. (Pic: Dorking Advertiser)

More than 60 years after the war ended, Mr Russell finally received recognition for the vital part he played in the Allied victory.

Because of the confidential nature of his work Mr Russell received no recognition for his efforts until he received a letter and medal from then Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009.

In the post-war years, Mr Russell became a successful screenwriter for much-loved TV series including The Saint, Dixon Of Dock Green, Tales Of The Unexpected and The Onedin Line.

He also wrote several documentaries, including one on Prince Charles called Pilot Royal, and another on Sir Francis Chichester’s epic voyage around the world, called The Lonely Sea And The Sky.

Throughout his career he was an active member of the Writers Guild of Great Britain and was awarded their Laurel Award for his services to the Guild.

Roy died on January 8 2015 after a five-year battle with Alzheimer’s.

His wife Barbara, 96, told the Dorking Advertiser: “He was the most marvellous husband, absolutely perfect; so good that we never had a single quarrel in 70 years of marriage.”

Sources: Surrey Mirror, Dorking Advertiser, BRA Archive. 

Jan 242015
 

Winston-50th

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill.

Thank you on behalf of a grateful nation for guiding us through dark days and ensuring we had a well equipped and well prepared resistance force.

On 2 July 1940 Winston Churchill and the War Cabinet stated that:-

“The regular defences require supplementing with guerrilla type troops, who will allow themselves to be overrun and who thereafter will be responsible for hitting the enemy in the comparatively soft spots behind zones of concentrated attack”

Winston Churchill to Anthony Eden, 25th September 1940 stated:

“I have been following with much interest the growth and development of the new Guerrilla formations……known as ‘Auxiliary Units’. From what I hear these units are being organised with thoroughness and imagination and should, in the event of invasion, prove a useful addition to the regular forces”.

The guerrilla type troops Churchill described became known as the GHQ Auxiliary Units or British Resistance Organisation. Colonel Colin McVean Gubbins then established a network of civilian saboteurs to attack invading German forces from behind their lines.

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 8.46.04 am

 

Nov 102014
 

Yesterday an Auxilier and ten Aux relatives and researchers marched down Whitehall in London lead by Lucy Fleming, daughter of Kent Auxiliary Unit Intelligence Officer Captain Peter Fleming.

march20140news-1

This is only the second time that members of the British Resistance have taken part in the Remembrance day parade on London.

Auxilier Trevor Miners from Perranporth Patrol was the wreath bearer and marched for the second time with his two sons.

After the march a small reception took place at The Farmers Club thanks to help from one of their members Philip Merricks OBE who also marched (Far left in image below)

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An original Aux badge was donated to the group on the day by marcher Neil Bent. Neil’s father was the patrol leader of the Nerrols Farm Patrol in Somerset. The badge will now be sold to help raise funds for future outreach.

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See video and images of the day here or on our Facebook page.

Jul 092014
 

British Resistance WreathWe are pleased to say that the Royal British Legion now have the Auxiliary Unit shield design we produced on file. (See above)

Anyone wanting to order a wreath dedicated to the British Resistance can now do so and this design will be the one used.

You can place an order here

Mar 232014
 

We are very sad to say that Ted Jefferies has passed away. He left us on Friday 21st March at his home in Highworth.

Ted was a Boy Scout during WW2. Too young to enlist, his war was spent in the rural market town of Highworth.

Ted was recruited to his role as a secret messenger for the Auxiliaries. Too young to sign the Official Secrets Act, he had to give the Scout’s oath as he was sworn to secrecy. As a Boy Scout, he was unlikely to attract suspicion or attention from the invading Nazis, but his uniform was easily identifiable by those agents who trained at Coleshill.

On 25.3.14 we spoke to BBC Wiltshire about Ted. Here the short interview here

Read about Ted’s amazing wartime role here