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 

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

May 132014
 

Dorset Auxiliary Units

Today we have uploaded new and updated reports to the site sent to us by our Dorset CIO Dr Will Ward.

These are Ferndown, Child Okeford and Winfrith & Broadmayne.

You can see them all here

Also look out for our attendance at next month’s Broadmayne D5 event in Dorset.

Sep 182012
 

Peter White, son of the Sgt Fred White of the Langton Matravers Auxiliary Unit is planning to unveil a memorial plaque to the patrol on October 27th 2012.

The British Legion will be in attendance and CART will be providing a small stand in the village hall (seen left). CART’s researchers for Dorset, Coleshill and Devon will also be in attendance.

The small event is open to all and anyone wishing to take part should contact Tom Sykes by emailing hq@coleshillhouse.com

More information on the event can be seen here

Dec 112011
 

Dr. Will Ward, CART CIO for Dorset, has provided info on the Came Park Patrol from Dorset.

The patrol’s Operational Base was apparently built by soldiers of the Dorsetshire Regiment stationed in the town, which was the home of the Regimental Depot. This was most unusual but the men were apparently extremely secretive about what they had done, despite the interest of their colleagues.

Read the full report here