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.
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.