May 212017
 

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

 

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….

Feb 242015
 

Hawkchurch SDB 2

Aux researcher Chris Perry with assistance from Nina Hannaford has today published a report on a Special Duties Out Station.

The report is about the wireless site, recorded as “Hawkchurch” Out Station, on the Devon / Dorset border (in Devon from 1896) which is actually in the nearby hamlet of Fishponds Bottom which is in Dorset on the edge of the Vale of Marshwood.

The wireless was located in a “chicken shed” at the rear of a house locally known as “Briscoe’s Farm”.

Read their detailed report here

Feb 242015
 

Symondsbury Auxiliary Unit 1We have added four more patrol reports to Group 6 in Dorset thanks to the hard work of our Dorset CIO Dr. Will Ward with help from Martyn Allen & others.

These are Symondsbury, Morcombelake, Shipton Gorge and Whitchurch Canonicorum.

You can view them here. 

Can you help with any additional info? We would love to hear from you. 

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….

Aug 192014
 

CART Dorset Bunker Bash. A report by Dorset CIO Will Ward. 

The 3rd August 2014 saw a memorable get together of three former Dorset Auxiliers and researchers at a rather special location in the south of Dorset. Dorset Home Guard researcher John Pidgeon was the organiser, having been contacted by the landowner via The Keep Museum in Dorchester. During a visit the owner had asked if the museum knew anything about the underground structures on his land. They contacted John, who recognised the site as one described to us previously by a member of the public, during a visit to another OB site as part of the South Dorset Ridgeway project.

CART was represented by CART CIO Will Ward and West Dorset assistant Martyn Allen. A remarkable turnout of three surviving Auxiliers joined the team, consisting of Wrackleford Patrol member George Northover with his son, Abbotsbury Patrol member Gerald Dunford and 94 year old Douglas Keegan from Came Down Patrol near Dorchester. Also present was Sybil Legg, the widow of Chickerell Patrol member Leslie Legg with her son. Lloyd Dare, son of Whitchurch Canicorum Patrol member William Fred Dare and Robin and Charlie Pitcher, grandson and great grandson respectively of Long Bredy Patrol member Charlie Pitcher, came along too. Finally we were joined by Gary Sterne, who runs the D Day Museum in Weymouth, as well as Maisy Battery in Normandy, so is well used to exploring bunkers, but normally German ones instead of British!

Surviving Dorset Auxiliers

Surviving Dorset Auxiliers (from left) George Northover, Gerald Dunford and Douglas Keegan, meeting for the first time (the Aux Units in West and South Dorset did not meet up as a group ever). Photo by Martyn Allen.

We had a fascinating chat to start, with some displays of Aux Units weaponry from John and some of the CART displays from the recent Broadmayne event. The veterans talked about some of their experiences. Though Fred Dare is still alive, he still refuses to talk about his Aux Units service. His son did mention that he had described guarding some of the vulnerable sites in the Purbecks around D Day, a role we know Dorset Auxiliers were allocated. He also recalled that June 6th had seen a brief snow flurry, sufficient to turn the ground white, which goes to show what a close call it must have been to say the weather was adequate for the invasion to go ahead. George Northover was one of the youngest Dorset Auxiliers, having replaced his brother when he left for the RAF. He recalled how his OB had a hatch in a hedgerow. The plants of the hedge would rise up when the hatch was opened! Douglas Keegan did not receive his Aux Units stand down enamel badge at the end of the war. He would quite like one, but at over £300, they are a bit pricey. CART has arranged the next best thing and has given him one of our enamel badges.

Together we then headed uphill to visit not one, but two OBs on the farm. The first was built into the bottom of a disused cottage and the Auxiliers were impressed by the quality of the construction, which was much sturdier than usual. It is still in good condition, even if flooded on a regular basis.

The inside of the cottage bunker prior to pumping the water out

The inside of the cottage bunker prior to pumping the water out

We then moved a relatively short distance to a second and largely collapsed site in a small wood. This had originally been thought by the owners to relate to an antiaircraft gun site known to have existed nearby (nose cones from the shells are sometimes ploughed up in the fields). However our visited revealed all the hallmarks of a typical OB, with entrance and exit designed for hatches, not steps, the remains of bunks and shelves inside and typical Elephant shelter construction. What isn’t clear is which patrol used this OB! The patrol that used the cottage OB are said to have moved to another in a copse within site of the cottage, suggesting another patrol used this site. With no surviving members from the likely candidate patrol, we can’t be sure.

A view looking along the collapsed chamber of the second OB.

A view looking along the collapsed chamber of the second OB.

In the foreground is a collapsed wall, with concrete showing the indentations of the corrugated iron elephant shelter, and with with a square cut out in the brickwork, most likely for a ventilation pipe. Between the overgrowth in the distance can be seen daylight coming through the doorway into either an entrance or exit chamber. Just beyond the brickwork is the curved roof of the collapsed chamber. Tape measure, notebook and pencil are poised to record the site. (Secateurs and gloves are to clear the undergrowth!)

Look out for full reports on this website soon. Many thanks to John Pidgeon for making the arrangements, and to the landowner and their family for a superb visit in the summer sunshine. We all learnt a lot from an enjoyable day out.

Please note that these OBs are on private land are not normally accessible. Both are in a dangerous condition and we made special arrangements for confined space access equipment, including gas detectors and rescue harnesses, with trained operators, to be available for this visit.

Aug 192014
 

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”!

Dorchester SD Outstation

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.

Coleman Event Tent

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.

Aux Display

Display case featuring various items used by Aux Units, including truncheons, fighting knives and different patterns of booby trap.

 

 

Aug 152014
 
Dr Will Ward - CART Dorset

Dr Will Ward – CART Dorset

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 cartdorset@gmail.com

Please do pop along and support the events if you can.

Jun 152014
 

Broadmayne D5 PosterIn less than 7 days we will be exhibiting at the Broadmayne D5 event in Dorset.

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. 

We are hoping to be joined by at least one Dorset Auxilier on the day. This will be a very rare opportunity for you to meet them and ask them any questions.

We will display some of our research and artefacts in our tent and provide the background to the various patrols around the UK with focus on Dorset.

We will also have a few Aux re-enactors as part of our display.

CART County Information Officers (CIOs) from Dorset, Devon and GHQ at Swindon will be on hand to answer any questions and help trace records of loved ones.

Do come along and support us. See more here