Dorchester Military Festival. Report by Dorset CIO Will Ward
August 16th 2014
CART Dorset put on a display in Dorchester’s Borough Gardens, at this event held in aid of injured Dorset servicemen. After the intended plan to borrow a display tent fell through, local store Great Western Camping came to the rescue with a rush delivery in just 24 hours from their suppliers! It wasn’t the intention, but it was pointed out subsequently that the curved Coleman event shelter looks quite like the curved roof of an OB! We were able to set up directly opposite and less than 50 yards from the house that was home to the Dorchester Special Duties Out Station. When visitors asked, “Where is the nearest Aux Units site?” the answer was a simple “Over there”!
The site of the Dorchester SD Outstation just visible beyond the trees and behind the stand of local regiment The Rifles.
This was not a large event, but did feature the loud bangs of the Nothe Fort’s Victorian Volunteer Artillery firing their cannons at intervals. There was a steady stream of visitors, with one providing a useful lead on a local Special Duties observer and another gave details of a patrol member’s widow and recollections of that man’s reticence to discuss anything to do with Aux Units. It was very pleasing to hear the Tannoy announcer pick out the CART stand as being the most interesting at the show. Visitors were also complementary and a couple seem likely to join up as CART Friends through the website.
The CART Dorset display with “elephant shelter” pattern tent design! It was suggested we might like to fit bunk beds and add an escape tunnel!
Many thanks to Dorset Home Guard researcher John Pidgeon who provided some of the display items, including both a rubber truncheon and a First World War wooden trench truncheon with studded hobnails and a lead core, of the types known to have been used by Auxiliers in some parts of the country.
Display case featuring various items used by Aux Units, including truncheons, fighting knives and different patterns of booby trap.
Dr Will Ward, Our CIO (County Information Officer) for Dorset will be attending the Dorchester Military Tattoo tomorrow with a small stand on research into the British Resistance in Dorset. You can find out more about this event on their Facebook page here.
Will will also be taking part in the RAF Warmwell Memorial Weekend on Sunday 31st August. You can see more about this event here.
If you would like any more info or to ask Will any questions, please do email email@example.com
Please do pop along and support the events if you can.
Today is CART’s (Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team) fifth birthday.
We have been researching the Auxiliary Units (British Resistance) for five years.
The website was started on 29th June 2009 by Tom Sykes after a visit to the GHQ at Coleshill.
Tom had no idea that there were others around the country interested in the subject and soon a group was formed.
The main strength of CART is that we share our findings. We believe strongly in being open and transparent and share all our findings with each other and the world in a free way.
CART’s CIO’s (Researchers) all share this ethos and this is how we have been able to grow so quickly, that and many hundreds of hours of volunteer time in records offices and romping through the countryside looking for Operational Bases.
The British Resistance Archive is the result of all this hard work, much of which has never been discovered before.
Thank you to all our Friends, Supporters and followers for all your help and financial aid.
Understanding the importance of preserving Operational Bases, we launched ‘Operation Turnip’, a project to restore a real Operational Base in Kent.
In 2011 we created a unique film on the Welsh resistance for the Abergavenny Museum and published ‘Gone to Ground‘, the only known novel by an Auxilier. The Coleshill Reborn project was also launched which investigated the tunnel system under Coleshill House and produced a full set of CAD technical drawings of Coleshill House and the outbuildings.
We have also organised many events, most notably at Tottington Manor, the regional Aux training HQ in Sussex. This saw Sussex Intelligence Officer Captain Ian Benson, return after 70 years and talk for the first time to the public about his top secret work.
This November we are organising the march for the British Resistance contingent on Armistice Day at the Cenotaph. It will be the first time members of the Auxiliary Units have marched and is a very important day for Auxiliers as they have never had official recognition by the British government. – See more here.
Our website now contains more than 630 pages of research and has seen over 200,000 visitors. Our research has attracted TV, radio and national press attention.
We are always looking for new volunteers and researchers to help expand our knowledge and resources.
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.
Norwich Zero Station – Many 0f our researchers believe this to be the most significant ‘find’ in terms of research into the Special Duties Section in the last decade.
In the spring of 2012, we were contacted by a retired grounds man who informed us about the existence of a secret WWII ‘bunker’ and a meeting was arranged within the same week.
Armed with spades, shovels, a crow bar, and a metal detector we met the owners’ development manager at the site. What we found left us quite breathless (in more than one way)
The property owners acted swiftly and with great responsibility in that the in-house surveyors as well as Norfolk County archaeologists were informed within hours. Furthermore, thanks to the owners’ generosity and trust we were the first to carry out a detailed survey before anyone else came on site, and for this we are immensely grateful. Bound by our promise not to talk about what we had seen, we quietly continued our research and we produced a report to be used for guidance by all concerned – knowing that nobody would be familiar with what they would be seeing, and that for this reason not only would many small details go unnoticed but, more importantly, the importance of this find might not be fully understood. Nowhere in the UK was there another Zero-station in a similar state of preservation and with so many original features still in place. Consequently, we suggested that the structure is of national importance and that it should for this reason be preserved in its entirety.
In due course, the Norfolk County archaeologists requested our presence when conducting their own assessment – needless to say that we were very pleased to be invited to meet them. To our great delight, they unanimously decided on the spot to involve National Heritage, resulting in the Zero station being declared a Scheduled Monument of national importance. Our report now forms part of the archaeological survey of the site.
Our thanks go to the landowner and the hard work Evelyn and Adrian have put in to producing this report.