Nov 102016
 

p01tn3kpOn 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.

Aug 122016
 

Filming with Escape to the Country 2Today 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.

Filming with Escape to the Country 1The 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.

Filming with Escape to the Country 3

A short behind the scenes video can be seen below. It is thought the episode will air in about six months time.

May 212016
 
image

Inside the WWII secret wireless station, or IN-Station in Norwich, which has just been protected as a scheduled monument. The entrance to the third chamber, which is where the escape tunnel begins from © Norfolk Historic Environment Service.A secret Second World War bunker built on the orders of Winston Churchill lay hidden under a Thorpe St Andrew estate for almost 70 years.

A secret Second World War bunker built on the orders of Winston Churchill lay hidden under a Thorpe St Andrew estate for almost 70 years.

Its entrance is behind a bookcase, its aerial was disguised in a tree with the feeder cable under the bark, and there was an escape tunnel in case its operatives were discovered.

Now the underground wireless station, on private land at Pinebanks, off Yarmouth Road, has been protected as a scheduled monument by the government on the advice of Historic England.

The rare IN-Station, also known as a Zero Station, was part of a mysterious secret wireless network operated mostly by civilian agents.

Wireless stations were set up in 1940 by Winston Churchill in response to the increasing threat of German invasion.

Pinebanks in Norwich picture by Adrian Judd for EN

Pinebanks in Norwich picture by Adrian Judd for EN

It is thought that just 32 of the bunkers were built in England during the Second World War, with just a dozen discovered so far and the Pinebanks bunker is one of the most intact examples.

The station, which received messages from OUT-Stations in enemy-occupied areas, was found by a retired groundsman in the gardens of Pinebanks in 2012.

It has now been awarded special protected status to preserve it and to celebrate its history.

Heritage minister David Evennett said: “This underground wireless station is a rare and unusual example of our Second World War heritage and deserves to be protected.

“It is a reminder too of the often forgotten role so many civilians played in the war effort often acting in secret and undercover.”

The recruits in Churchill’s Secret Army, also known as the British Resistance Organisation, had to verbally swear to secrecy, with one hand on a Bible. In some cases even their families knew nothing of the role that required them to leave their homes regularly at night.

Historic England’s Tony Calladine said: “This amazing place that has survived intact played a highly secret but vitally important role in preparing us for a feared invasion during the Second World War. Because so much information about the stations was either hidden or destroyed, this small but significant dugout has great potential to teach us about a relatively little-known area of our 20th century military history.”

A spokesman for Ocubis Ltd, development manager for site owner Berliet Ltd, said: “We have been liaising with BDC and Historic England and, as we have always stated, will ensure the setting of this historically important former Norwich WW2 IN-station in Thorpe St Andrew is preserved.”

It is thought that the bunker was built under the Jarrold family’s tennis court at Pinebanks in the 1940s.

Details only emerged after the family’s former gardener, who had to sign the Official Secrets Act, told a young groundsman about the construction work he had witnessed.

The gardener did not disclose this until after his retirement, and he did not reveal the location, with this emerging later.

Winston Churchill had set up a secret army unit called GHQ Auxillary Units with a particular branch known as Special Duties, and wireless stations were built as part of this.

Civilian volunteers living in the most threatened coastal areas of the country were trained to spy and report on German military activities from within occupied areas, with their messages received by IN-Stations like the one at Pinebanks.

Details about their locations and construction were kept secret and very little documentation of the stations exists.

Information was protected in case they should be needed again in the future.

Historic England is asking the public to come forward with information about family members who were trained to be civilian spies, or any clues as to where the remaining 20 IN-stations lay hidden.

Email communications@HistoricEngland.org.uk

Report by Sam Russell (Eastern Daily Press)

SEE THE FULL REPORT ON THIS LOCATION HERE. 

Apr 042016
 

Article by Ray Duffill

secret-army-posterBy daytime in World War II, Charlie Mason was an aircraft engineer at Brough, but this just provided cover for his covert membership of Britain’s secret resistance organisation. Charlie’s role, in an invasion by foreign enemy troops, would be to fight the invaders from behind their own lines with a campaign of espionage, sabotage and disruption.

Charles Arthur Mason was a member of the South Cave Patrol of the secretive Auxiliary Units set up on the orders of Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1940. This secret army was established with two key roles during an invasion by forces of Nazi Germany; to collect intelligence on invading enemy forces and to organise a guerilla offensive behind enemy lines. Nominally part of the Home Guard, this was certainly no ‘Dad’s Army’.

An exhibition at Hedon Museum, which opened on Saturday, reveals much about the secret life of Charlie Mason who along with his comrades trained and prepared to resist the invaders. Because of the secret nature of its organisation, the story of this ‘underground’ resistance army remains largely untold, and for most of his life Charlie, bound by the Official Secrets Act, kept his wartime role secret.

Jo Mulhearn with display boards about her father Charles Mason.

Jo Mulhearn with display boards about her father Charles Mason.

“He didn’t tell us much at all about his secret activities,” said Charlie’s daughter Jo Mulhearn at the Hedon Museum on Saturday. “He’d told us that he worked for a section of the Home Guard, and during the war, he said to Mother ‘if the invasion starts, let the chickens out of the coop, then go to the church and make sure the bells are rung to warn people. I’ll then be going away… and may not be back for some time.’“

During an invasion, Charlie would have made his way to his operational base, a hide-out in the countryside stocked with knives, guns and explosives from which his unit would conduct operations against the enemy. Some of those items, safely decommissioned, are on display in the exhibition.

Maggie Sumner from the Hedon & District Local History Society was particularly interested in one commando knife in the exhibition which she believes was the one that Charlie brought with him when he gave a talk to a meeting of the Society, perhaps 20 years ago. “The presentation stands out, even after all this time because of the interesting subject matter, but also because of Charlie holding this big lethal looking dagger!” Apparently, in peacetime, the knife was used for nothing sinister but merely as a gardening trowel by Charlie!

Alan Williamson, author and researcher, and Jo Mulhearn.

Alan Williamson, author and researcher, and Jo Mulhearn.

 

Alan Williamson’s book

Alan Williamson’s book

Jo Mulhearn opened the exhibition on Saturday, but introducing her was Alan Williamson who has spent 22 years researching the local Auxilary Units – work which he says is ongoing. Alan has written a book, East Ridings Secret Resistance, which was published in 2003. Much of the research for that book was undertaken by both Alan and Charlie – “Charlie was always keen to re-discover the sites of the former Operational Bases,” said Alan “he would be the first one down into any forgotten underground bunker.”

There was a real threat of invasion in the early part of the war, and whilst that did not take place, the Auxilary Units were kept in active service until finally ‘stood down’ in November 1944.

The “Secret No More” exhibition currently showing at the Hedon Museum reveals much about the membership and wartime activities of this secret army and draws heavily upon the experiences of Charles Mason (1914 – 2008) and other veterans of this most secret army.

The story of East Riding’s secret resistance army 1940-44 at Hedon Museum is open every Wednesday and Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm until Wednesday 4th May 2016. Refreshments are available. Please seek out the signs and notices in Hedon town centre to find your way to the museum which is behind the town hall complex.

A ‘must-see’ exhibition!

Mar 152016
 

WW2 PodcastRecently our Founder was asked to conduct an interview with the WW2 Podcast about the British Resistance and our research.

The WW2 Podcast was started in 2004 and to date has had millions of downloads.

They cover many varied topics on World War Two.

You can download and listen to this here

Thank you to them for considering us and helping us spread the word.

Aug 262015
 

The Sunderland Miner Who Became Churchill’s ‘Secret Weapon’.

A Wearside woman’s family tree research has uncovered the top secret role her father played during World War Two.

Jim Jarvis 1Miner Jim Jarvis officially served in the Home Guard during the conflict, but behind the scenes he was actually part of a British Resistance organisation known as Auxiliary Units – or ‘Churchill’s secret weapon’.

“These were highly secret groups and officially didn’t exist. Their aim was to resist occupation of the UK by Nazi Germany at all costs,” said his daughter, Ruth Raine.

“The men were trained to live underground and fight to the death if captured. Each signed the Official Secrets Act and we only found out about dad’s involvement by chance.”

Jim, son of pitman and World War One veteran James Jarvis and his wife Elizabeth, was born in 1919 and lived at 92 Front Street, High Moorsley. After finishing school he joined a gas company.

As the storm clouds of war gathered over Europe, however, James forced his son – who was still under 21 – to take a job at the local pit, in the hope a reserved occupation would keep him safe.

Jim and Phyllis on June 16, 1979 at their son Alan's wedding

Jim and Phyllis on June 16, 1979 at their son Alan’s wedding

“My grandfather had a terrible time in WWI and, although he would never talk about it, he still suffered from nightmares. He was injured in France, but we don’t know how,” said Ruth. “That made him determined to keep my father safe, which is why he made him go down the pit. It wasn’t the job he’d have normally picked for Jim, but he wanted to keep his son out of harm’s way.”

Jim was, however, determined to play his part and on July 8, 1940, signed up for the Home Guard. Three years later, in May 1943, the corporal was recruited into the Hetton-Le-Hole Auxiliary Unit.

The role demanded “more skill, coolness and hard work” than any other voluntary organisation, according to official documents. Recruits also had to be prepared to face “greater dangers” too.

“We used to ask dad what he’d done in the war, but he couldn’t tell us because of the Official Secrets Act. He just used to say he’d been in the Home Guard,” said Ruth.

“But he did say he’d tell us a bit more when he got word from the Ministry of Defence to claim his defence medal at around the age of 65. Unfortunately he died shortly before that letter arrived.

“It was complete chance we found out anything at all. We stumbled across his name while looking for my grandfather’s WWI records, and found dad had been in something called an Auxiliary Unit.”

Little has been written about life in Auxiliary Units, although the general idea was that soldiers based in secret tunnels would form a resistance force in the face of enemy invasion.

Recruits were expected to turn “night into day” while underground; sleeping in daylight and patrolling at night. Many tunnels can still be seen today – including at Houghton.

“The men were told that if there was any chance of being captured they either had to shoot themselves, get someone to shoot them,” said Ruth.

“It is difficult to associate my dad with something like that, as he was such a family man. It is also sadly ironic that instead of keeping his son safe, my grandad put him right in the firing line.”

Jim successfully combined a pit job with his secret life in the Auxiliary Unit; even finding time to marry his sweetheart Phyllis on July 31, 1943 – although he never told her what he did.

“We will never know exactly what dad went through. The secrecy still surrounding the units is such a shame – many people probably have no idea just how brave their relatives were,” said Ruth.

“My dad always said it was the only secret he ever kept from mam. He wanted to tell her, but couldn’t until the Official Secrets Act ran out – but he passed away before that happened.”

The Auxiliary men were finally stood down in late 1944, but Jim remained in the Home Guard until December 1945. He stayed in the mines after the war, working as a shot-firer at Sherburn Hill and Dawdon.

“All the family are very proud of what he did in the war; I can’t tell you how proud we are that dad was one of Churchill’s secret weapons.

“One day, hopefully, we will find out more,” said Ruth.

l More information on the secret units, including ones at Haswell, Hetton and Wheatley Hill, can be found at the website www.coleshillhouse.com

[SOURCE: Sunderland Echo.]

May 172015
 

Churchills-Toyshop

Discovery Channel – Friday 22nd May 9pm.

This one-off documentary explores the secretive and strange arms race between Britain and the Nazis during WW2. 

Convinced that the path to victory lay in out gunning the Nazis but faced with limited resources, British weapon manufactures were forced to improvise. 

To combat the problem, Winston Churchill himself set-up a secret clandestine research institute, dedicated to coming up with super weapons that would give troops the edge in battle. He christened the department Military Defence 1 but it quickly becomes known as Churchill’s toyshop.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 5.20.01 amUsing rare archive and interviews, the one-off special tells the story of the department and some of the most fantastic and improbable weapons ever created. With the help of modern experts and contemporary blue prints the series will also recreate some of the lost technology. [Source: Sky]

RELATED CONTENT: 

Many items used by the Auxiliary Units were designed by Major Millis Jefferis and Stuart Macrae including the Sticky Bomb and the Pressure Switch. This can be bought in our shop.

Read our page all about the Toyshop here.

There is also a very good book on the subject called ‘Churchill’s Toyshop’ Which can be bought here. 

May 142014
 

Broadmayne Masthead

The Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team to attend Broadmayne D5, Dorset, event.

The Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART), the team behind the British Resistance Archive which records the highly secret activities of the British Resistance, during WWII has announced it will be exhibiting at the Broadmayne D5 event in Dorset on Saturday 21st June 2014.

The British Resistance, or Auxiliary Units as they were known, was a group made up of civilian volunteers that were to act as the British Resistance in the event of a German invasion. The group signed the Official Secrets Act and told no one of their activities or training, not even their closest families and friends. If the invasion alert sounded they were expected to head to their operational bases (OBs) hidden underground right around the UK, and come out at night to disrupt the enemy as much as possible, by destroying transport and supplies, ‘dealing’ with collaborators and generally making a nuisance of themselves to allow the regular army time to counter-attack.

The life expectancy of an Auxilier was just around two weeks such was the danger of their mission. However, because they signed the Official Secrets Act most have gone to their grave without letting on to anyone exactly what they were up to and what they were prepared to do for the country.

The Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART) was set up to find out more about this remarkable group, identify remaining OBs (which are often found in tact) and if possible encourage veterans to come forward with their stories. The group also successfully lobbied the Royal British Legion for the inclusion of the Auxiliary Units in the Cenotaph march past on Remembrance Sunday last year, the first time they have been publicly recognised.
The Broadmayne event will see CART displaying its research and artefacts and providing details about the various patrols around the UK, with a special focus on Dorset, there will also be a Information Desk with County Information Officers (CIOs) from Dorset, Devon and GHQ at Swindon on hand to answer any questions and help trace records of loved ones. There will also be re-enactors showing the equipment of the Auxiliary Units and how they could use them with devastating effect.

The team is also hoping to be joined by at least one Dorset Auxilier on the day. This could be a very rare opportunity to meet one of these remarkable individuals and ask them any questions.
Broadmayne D5 is an off-shoot of the Weymouth at War event which is on over the same weekend. Broadmayne is only a short drive from Weymouth seafront. The event is being funded with Heritage Lottery money and will include a number of different re-enactors from a variety of WW2 units, a wealth of information on the local area during the war as well as a 1940’s village fete.

More information can be found here: http://www.coleshillhouse.com/british-resistance-archive-at-broadmayne-d5.php

*** ENDS ***

About CART & The British Resistance Archive.

The Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART) publishes its findings on the British Resistance Archive (BRA) website.
CART also provides an internal network for serious and dedicated researchers who focus on the British Resistance and agree with CART’s core value of making the research public.

CART is made up of select volunteer historians and published writers known as County Information Officers (CIOS) and also public members.
CART is not a business or an academic body of professional researchers.

CART is non-profit making and has no financial support from any company or organisation. It is funded solely by donations and the revenue it makes from the sale of various items sold in the shop.

Since CART’s birth in June 2009 the website has seen over 110,000 unique visitors and has attracted TV, Radio and national press attention.
For further information about CART please go to this page http://www.coleshillhouse.com/about-us.php or call 0872 045 9940 or email hq@coleshillhouse.com

Jan 172014
 

hereford_worcesterThis morning we spoke to Howard & Toni on the breakfast show of BBC Hereford & Worcester about our research in those counties.

You can see more info on the patrols in Herefordshire here and more on the Worcestershire patrols here.

The radio interview can be listened to here.

Thanks for the coverage guys.