Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Letton "Adam" Auxiliary Unit Patrol.

Thank you for selecting information on the Letton "Adam" Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base. The info and images below have been supplied by our internal archive and other sources.

This page was last updated at 11:55am on 12/7/15

Research into this patrol and its training is ongoing. The information below is published from various sources and is by no means conclusive. If information is not listed below it does not necessarily mean the information is not out there but normally means CART researchers have not found it yet.

If you have any information on this patrol or can help with research in this area please do contact us.

Letton is a small ancient village which is included in the estate of Letton Court next to the River Wye.

Herefordshire formed part of area 19 which also included Worcestershire ( Groups 1a and 1b), Monmouthshire (Group 3) and latterly from 1943 part of Glamorganshire (Groups 4a and 4b).

The first intelligence officer was Captain John Ellerman Todd who had been a London stockbroker before the war. Known to be a character but dressed as the country gent it is believed he lived at Llanfihangel Crucorny in Monmouthshire. Recruited to SOE, Todd was replaced by Captain Christopher Sandford and the area headquarters became Eye Manor near Leominster.

A later Intelligence Officer included Captain Lloyd Bucknell RA.

Letton “Adam” Patrol was part of Herefordshire Group 2 which consisted of six Patrols: Leominster  (“Abednigo”), Bromyard (“Jacob”), Walls Hill (“Mechach”), Dinedor (“Caleb”) and Symonds Yat (“Shadrach”) patrols.

Area Group Commander was Captain Geoffrey S E Lacon of Bircher near Leominster
Group commander of these Patrols was Captain J.H.“Hughie” Hall  and Assistant C.Q.M.S. Albert Thomas Pettifer.

Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Monmouthshire Patrols were given Biblical code names. It is assumed this was an initiative of Todd to prevent the use of patrols locations names. 

Currently unknown though thought to be the latter part of 1940. Thought to be the first in the area.

Sergeant Alexander Beck of Letton Court        
Corporal John Turner of  Kings Pyon          
Private Vernon Beach Thomas of Breinton
Private Geoffrey Morgan-Jones of Swainshill
Private Leslie Evans of Swainshill   

 also maybe Private W A H Morgan of Kington   

Hereford Auxiliers

Back Row - J F RYAN, J RHYS-THOMAS, J B SAINSBURY, W R ROBINSON, N D O CAPPER, G O SAINSBURY, J E POTTER, G MORGAN-JONES, V BEACH-THOMAS

Next Row - J F HARTWRIGHT, E LEWIS, E F BARNETT, L J HODELL, G GRIFFITHS, J TURNER, H E SAINSBURY, E C TISDALE, G P THOMAS, F J HANCORN, G H CHAMBERS

Next Row - D HOWARD-SMITH, A T PETTIFER, M G HOOTON, G S E LACON, J H HALL, F W GREEN, R E HOLFORD, A BECK

Front Row - D T WENT, J CLELAND, W F PUDGE, J THORNTON, E R PRICE, L EVANS, R G H BROOKS, F MAYO

Photograph by VIVIANS

Photo Copy - Brian JONES Collection Album 2 BJ59

[Source: http://www.old-ledbury.co.uk/Military.htm#mil2]

Alexander Beck was born 3/11/1898, the son of George Moreland Beck (1863 - 1945) and Grace Margaret.  The father, George, oscillated between this country and Argentina where he had a ranch.  In fact, Alex traveled, with his parents, to Buenos Aires in the late 1918 (this was after his service in the RFC with the ultimate rank of Captain).  In 1930, in the UK, he married Joan Prudence Picton-Warlow, who was born in Ceylon where her father was a tea planter. In 1911 her entire family were living in Breconshire and her father was describes as “retired tea planter”.  By 1932 the new Mrs Beck was making a name as the breeder of Alsatians at the Letton Court Kennels.  In 1954 Alex traveled alone to Buenos Aires and returned two years later, at the age of 58, to farm at Lower Heyford.

The first OB was built by the Royal Engineers in a wooded area close to Sergeant Beck's home at Old Lutton Court.

Old Letton Court

Old Letton Court

Old Letton Court is situated below Oaker's Hill and can be seen through the trees

The OB was never approached in daylight: it was on the land of a Major Cotterrel who lived at Gamons and it was located on Gamons Hill. Its location may have been influenced by it being one of the first pieces of wooded hillside west of Hereford. It is for this reason that GM-J is reluctant to provide a precise location on the hill.
He recollects that a General Greenley was one of the inspecting officers.

It had a corrugated iron roof and a small boarded escape tunnel that could have exited too close to the OB to be effective. The entrance was via a trap door covered with earth.

The trapdoor to the hide was covered by earth and was lifted manually. The hide was near a yew tree, well off the rides: the Unit members were expected to be able to find their way to the hide in the dark.

When it was realised that ventilation was an issue a new OB was established in caves at Credenhill.

West of Credenhill

View to the west from Credenhill. © Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Whilst the AUs might disable a few tanks, this role would not be significant. Apart from their nuisance role, 'Adam' did not have any specific targets in the area.

Training by the regular army included use of plastic explosives, unarmed combat, assembling explosive charges in the dark and night firing.

One exercise had the Patrol booby trapping a high-ranking officers car. An unplanned but successful diversion of over turning a hen house meant they achieved their aim.

An exercise with the other Herefordshire Patrols at Canon (or King's) Pyon involved noting the number on a 5-gallon drum without being seen by the Army detachment guarding it. A member of “Adam” patrol not only got the number but carried off the drum as well. Captain Sandford was not pleased and the Patrol were reprimanded.

Other exercises involved demolishing trees to block roads and exercises to test the security of Shobdon airfield.

At a party at Bullingham Barracks, Hereford, a Army officer was adamant nobody could break into the guarded camp. Sergeant Beck decided to take this as a challenge so at 2am the patrol drove to a spot to wait an hour for their vision to adjust to the dark night. Avoiding the sentries they entered the camp at different points laying thunderflashes on time pencil delays. It is unknown it they stayed to watch the resulting commotion.

Hereford Patrols trained at Holmer Grange, the home of Captain“Hughie” Hall. Auxiliers had memories of a large lake with a pontoon bridge over. An exercise was to run over the pontoon with all their equipment, missing the part of the bridge that was primed to collapse. If they didn't fall in, the instructors pushed them in anyway.

A stuffed dummy mounted in a doorway was used for silent killing practice.

A competition between all six patrols took place at a farm at Holmer. Each Patrol had to place a magnet with the Patrols name attached on some farm equipment stored in a yard. Getting in and out without being spotted the victor was ”Jacob” Patrol.

At Coleshill unarmed combat was taught. The course was felt to be a bit of a waste of time possibly because Alex Beck had already carried out training with his unit and the majority were tough and robust farmers.

At Coleshill the men slept in a straw­filled loft: the only complaints about these sleeping arrangements were from non­ public schoolboys. The old boys were used to uncomfortable beds!

Unknown, but it is assumed that they had the standard weapons and explosives issued to all patrols. These were stored near the first OB in a separate store. This was entered via a trap door. This small pit-store contained various types of equipment: time pencils, Mills grenades, nitro­glycerine, phosphorous bombs etc. After the war the RE blew up the store but not all of the explosive content was destroyed.

A knife was provided for the silent killing of sentries. Once killed the sentry was to be eviscerated and his bowels drawn out. This was on Todd's instructions.

Sergeant Alex Beck was a veteran of Royal Flying Corps from World War 1. Having shot down an enemy aeroplane and walking into no man's land to retrieve part of the wing, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was very highly regarded by the Patrol.

Experimenting with some explosives, Sergeant Beck caused a blast large enough to damage a cottage and bring the Hay Civil Defence Corps running.

Morgan-Jones had only just returned from Australia when he was recruited to the Patrol.

Beach-Thomas was an engineer with Bulmers.

When first formed the Patrol didn't have an OB so their plan was to use whatever cover they could find. Their strategy was to gather together to make a plan then spread out to commit sabotage individually.

Geoff Morgan-Jones remembers a van Moppe giving a talk to a group, possibly on security. If they were ever stopped the enquirer was told that he belonged to 202 and to make further enquiries of a particular quarter (not sure , who/where ).

If any member of the patrol had been caught, the instruction was to get a message to Beck's wife Joan as a first means of communication. The whole basis was the less known the less able to disclose anything hence the aura of secrecy. Todd ended up on friendly terms with Beck. They had no illusions as to their fate if caught and no quarter was to be given.

Along with other patrols from around the country some of “Adam” Patrol were recruited to defend the Isle of Wight in June 1944 for 10 days during the time of D-Day. Here is a story of others experience of D-Day on the Isle of Wight.

They were attached to a HAA battery which they patrolled at night, presumable the fear was sabotage. Geoff Morgan-Jones felt this was a waste of time and often the men would resort to the local 'pub.

Secrecy was never compromised. When the war started to tum in the Allies' favour less time was spent in training but the unit still met if only for drinks!

Herefordshire patrols had their first reunion dinner on 26th January1945 at Booth Hall in Hereford.

TNA WO199/3389 & transcripts from Stephen Lewins. Hancock data held at B.R.A. The Mercian Maquis by Bernard Lowry & Mick Wilks, Info on Alexander Beck provided by Don Maddox.

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