Coleshill House (SN6 7PT) was the hush-hush headquarters of Churchill’s Secret Army, or the Auxiliers. Discover the detailed history of their training and visit some of the remaining Second World War features around the village, including the Guard House and the original prototype underground training bunker or Operational Base (OB). Plus, check out the newly built and refurbished replica “funk hole” and see the new display of artifacts including a rare copy of a Stand-Down letter.
|7 June 2018||18:00 – 20:00||Available|
|12 July 2018||18:00 – 20:00||Available|
|16 September 2018||10:00 – 12:00||Available|
|6 October 2018||14:00 – 16:00||Available|
Prices: Adult £5.00 / Child £2.50
Contact Rachel Coltman to book on: 01793 762-209
- Suitability: Children welcome (12+) / Assistance dogs welcome.
- Park & meet: at the Coleshill Estate Office car park.
- What to bring & wear: Please wear appropriate clothing for weather conditions. Flat sturdy shoes/boots/wellingtons advisable.
- Accessibility: A fairly long, flat walk through the village, woods & fields.
Free afternoons are also available to experience the replica OB:
|10 June 2018||14:00 – 17:00||Available|
|8 July 2018||14:00 – 17:00||Available|
|12 August 2018||14:00 – 17:00||Available|
|9 September 2018||14:00 – 17:00||Available|
|14 October 2018||14:00 – 17:00||Available|
Check out Tony Salter’s excellent ‘Scallywags’ Auxiliary Units display around the country this year:
Caldicot Castle May 6 – 7
War in the Vale Evesham June 16 – 17
Violet Szabo Museum Hereford June 24 (SOE)
Black Country museum Dudley July 14 – 15
Bleanavon Ironworks Aug 4 – 5
Papplewick pumping station Nottingham Oct 20 – 21
Next event: Caldicot Castle, Church Road, Caldicot, NP26 4HU, Wales
Today 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.
The 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.
A short behind the scenes video can be seen below. It is thought the episode will air in about six months time.
More than 50 firefighters and eight fire engines were called out to the blaze at GHQ Coleshill, at about 04:30 am this morning.
Crews were forced to work in “arduous conditions” but managed to stop the fire spreading to the rest of the building.
Group manager Kerry Blair said: “This severe fire has devastated a family-run business.”
He praised the “tireless” work of fire crews from Oxfordshire and Wiltshire and said they were working with police, paramedics, Southern Electric and the Environment Agency.
“Fire crews will be on scene all day damping down, and representatives from National Trust are already in attendance to manage the welfare of their tenants,” Mr Blair added.
‘It is well known that the Admin offices which adjoin the building which burnt down are in a terrible state and largely full of junk (Left). It’s a credit to the fire service that they have managed to save these buildings which the National Trust hope to one day restore.’ says Tom Sykes, Founder and Webmaster of the British Resistance Archive.
The image above shows the main building that has been destroyed. The upstairs rooms were used by the Auxiliers to sleep in when they were training onsite. See a video of the inside the admin offices here.
Recently 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.
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.
Miner 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.
“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.]
Today Stephen Lewins has added all the recorded names of members of the Auxiliary Unit on the Isle of Wight. The names have been added to this page for now and will be moved to their own patrol reports when a local researcher is found on the Island.
Their pre invasion role would be observation of the English Channel for German raids and the protection of vital island infrastructure including the allies PLUTO pipe line to France. After the reorganisation the patrols became part of no.14 Area (Hampshire) in Groups 9 & 10.
Can you help with any information?
Please contact us if you can help.
Today our Scottish CIOS have added three new patrol reports to the site.
The reports give the names of the men involved and other important information.
Site visits are planned in the future.
If you can help with any of their research please contact us.